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How Not to Handle a Scandal

Penn State is regarded as one of the nation’s finest academic institutions, but when a crisis emerged, no one stepped up. No one did, well, anything. The reactive approach the University chose to take couldn’t have made us look worse. Our once sterling reputation has lost a little bit of its shine.

The head of the organization should have been in the spotlight. Our President, Graham Spanier, should be in the public eye trying to give some kind of reassurance. It’s not a situation that allows for passiveness. This is potentially the worst scandal any college has ever faced.

Since the news broke, Spanier has been like a ghost aside from this questionable three paragraph statement backing Curley and Schultz:

“The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance.

With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee.

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately.”

Distancing yourself from the problem is the worst thing Spanier could have done, while supporting his employees unconditionally may be the second. In three paragraphs Spanier did absolutely no damage control while also tying his fate to Curley and Schultz.

Spanier has not made any kind of speech, apologized to the students, or taken any accountability what-so-ever. The only thing he has done is provide “unconditional support” to his employees who allegedly covered up a child sex scandal. C’mon man.

As for Joe Paterno, we will see what today’s press conference has in store. Media attending the event are advised that that primary focus of the teleconference is to answer questions related to Penn State’s Senior Day game with Nebraska this Saturday. You don’t need me to tell you that that isn’t going to work out; we’ll see how JoePa responds.

It is known that in 2002, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, witnessed Sandusky assault a young boy in the shower. McQueary passed this information onto Paterno who in turn informed Curley and Schultz. But what exactly did McQueary say to Paterno? Did he say they were horsing around or did he tell the whole truth? That’s the multi-million dollar question.

Spanier and Paterno both released statements as well as the lawyers of Curley and Schultz. While none of the statements seemed at all whole-hearted, they did say something. McQueary, the obvious missing link in the investigation, has been silent.

A fish rots from the head and five of the most prominent figures within Penn State are right in the middle of a sickening scandal. The amount of possible outcomes for this situation are endless and your guess is as good as mine, but one thing is for sure… It’s far from over.

About the Author


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