July 23, 2012 in Sports

Reactions to NCAA penalties against Penn State

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Penn State President Rodney Erickson says the school “must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up.”
(Full-size photo)

Statement from Joe Paterno’s family:

Sexual abuse is reprehensible, especially when it involves children, and no one starting with Joe Paterno condones or minimizes it. The horrific acts committed by Jerry Sandusky shock the conscience of every decent human being. How Sandusky was able to get away with his crimes for so long has yet to be fully understood, despite the claims and assertions of the Freeh report.
The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
That the President, the Athletic Director and the Board of Trustees accepted this unprecedented action by the NCAA without requiring a full due process hearing before the Committee on Infractions is an abdication of their responsibilities and a breach of their fiduciary duties to the University and the 500,000 alumni. Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.
The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.
Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.

“It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes. We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative.”

— Penn State president Rodney Erickson.

“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”

Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien.

“We are deeply disappointed that some of our leaders could have turned a blind eye to such abuse, and agree that the culture at Penn State must change. As we move forward, today’s student athletes have a challenging road ahead. But they will do the right thing, as they have always done. I am confident all of our head coaches will come together to make the change necessary to drive our university forward.”

Penn State acting athletic director David Joyner.

“We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing. As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”

NCAA president Mark Emmert.

“Not only does the NCAA have the authority to act in this case, we also have the responsibility to say that such egregious behavior is not only against our bylaws and constitution, but also against our value system and basic human decency.”

NCAA executive committee chairman Ed Ray, president of Oregon State.

“Penn State University is a great institution and has been a valued member of the Big Ten Conference for more than 20 years. Since early November 2011, it has been working very hard to right a terrible wrong. There is more to be done. The intent of the sanctions imposed today is not to destroy a great university, but rather to seek justice and constructively assist a member institution with its efforts to reform.”

Big Ten Conference, council of presidents and chancellors.

“Perhaps Penn State agreeing to sign this consent decree is an indication of their appreciation for what is their real exposure here, and that is to the victims in the civil litigation that is to follow.”

Matt Casey, an attorney whose legal team represents several victims in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

“Vacating wins is a hollow punishment that will be forgotten by the time the next season begins. Bans from bowl games have been issued in the past because players traded championship rings for tattoos. This is not a punishment that is equal to the horrific crimes that happened at Penn State.”

Karen Polesir of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

“It was kind of just like a head shaker. You knew it was coming, but it was hard to hear.”

Matt Bray, a Penn State freshman.

“To go that severe is not fair. I felt that went too far. Four years, that damages the whole program.”

Sam Zamrik, a retired Penn State professor and 40-year season-ticket holder.

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