I have noticed that many of my fellow alumni from Penn State have questioned everything from whether the Freeh report provided any new information (in Elizabeth Fiedler’s most recent Penn State article), to whether the NCAA can legally do what they’ve done. It shows a lack of perspective in the Blue and White community, enough so that it made me want to provide some form of response in my own words.
I think the Freeh report was very well put together and did provide new, material information (namely Joe’s knowledge in ’98) and that, while the NCAA punishment sounds severe, piece by piece I cannot find anything with which I vehemently disagree. It’s sad that the reality of the situation is so horrific, but I almost feel embarrassed as to how many of my peers have put their Blue and White blinders on in the face of this news.
Contrary to what I would expect, there are current Penn State students who have greater maturity in digesting the news of the past eight months than many of my fellow alumni. Rather than absorb the news that has come from the Freeh report and the Grand Jury, many of the same people who earned an education right along side me have disavowed accountability when it has come to the football program.
Most notably, Franco Harris, a Hall of Fame running back, has given a negative impression of the Penn State community in recent regional and national interviews, as he has defiantly shown no interest in reassessing the image of his beloved coach. In doing so, he not only humiliates the rest of the alumni, but more importantly, he indirectly drags the victims through the mud in the face of mounting evidence.
I was part of the Paternoville Coordination Committee (now Nittanyville) and Lion Scouts (student tour guides), so I am naturally biased in favor of my Alma Mater. However, I believe the most appropriate way to reflect the education I received is to do my best to be objective in light of this news. While I don’t want to see current students affected, I think the steps taken so far are appropriate in correcting a culture that lacked institutional control. Giving $60 million to child abuse foundations, blocking bowl appearances for several years, revoking wins from 1998 forward, allowing transfers of student athletes, and awarding fewer athletic scholarships — all the while continuing the football program to minimize penalty to current and future students — seem at least justifiable.
I understand the people who lament that current students will not get to enjoy the excitement of a bowl game, but I also think that there needed to be a large enough reprimand to give serious pause to the way the university conducts itself, given the Freeh report’s findings.
Robert C. Nagel is a Penn State alumnus and was interviewed for a June 25 report from Elizabeth Fiedler.