Spanier’s Continued Silence Is Sickening
I have considered the Pennsylvania State University my home for more than two years now, and up until last weekend, I knew very little about the man who supposedly runs the show- Presient Graham Spanier. The knowledge I did have was rather trivial and irrelevant:
- He does not like snow days.
- He is a talented musician.
- He enjoys music in his spare time.
On my very first day as a Penn State student, I was eating lunch with my parents in Findlay Commons dining hall, and he smiled from a table away while talking to some other freshmen. That is the closest I have ever come to meeting him.
Perhaps my limited Spanier knowledge was due to ignorance or the belief that it was not worth my time to follow his every move and decision. I had bigger issues to worry about, and my time was devoted better elsewhere. Over the last five days, I have learned a lot about Spanier, mostly from his failure to take appropriate action.
In the one instance where Spanier did issue a statement last Saturday, it was not well received:
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.
His claim that he would stick by Curley and Schultz no matter what was uncovered irked many, but no one expected this to be it from him. As the saga heated up, something else would sure be said on Sunday, if not Monday at the latest. Sunday night, several media members and individuals within the Penn State community waited for him to emerge from his office inside Old Main. Onward State staffer Eric Weiss was present to witness Spanier leaving the building and has the following account:
He was cheerful when he walked out, first saying “My, you are all here late.” He did not really want to talk but did assure reporters that a statement would be made soon. I wouldn’t say he was smiling, but he certainly wasn’t in a somber mood.
At that time, it was understandable for Spanier to delay a statement for a little while longer, but now, here we are on Wednesday,and there is still nothing new regarding-well- anything. For the last few days, Penn State has needed a leader, someone who theoretically represents the entire university, and they are not getting it from Spanier at the moment. In addition to remaining silent, Spanier has done his best to silence others highlighted by the cancellation of Joe Paterno’s weekly press conference yesterday. A disappointed Paterno insisted he was ready to answer the tough questions regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal only to have the opportunity taken away from him for the time being.
From the grand jury’s findings, one could make a case that Spanier’s judgment and behavior left much to be desired. He denied being aware of a previous Sandusky investigation in 1998 and appeared to have a tough time recalling details of what he had been told regarding interaction Victim 2 and Sandusky, describing it as “horsing around in the shower.” With all of this said, Curley and Schultz are the ones facing legal charges. It is understandable for them to be silent in this manner, but as long as Spanier is a free man and still has the title of “president” something must be said. With each passing hour of silence, he is losing more credibility and frustrating many. Some national columns are also demanding something from an individual who typically enjoys the spotlight.
Spanier has always been a well-rounded person and could easily put together an impressive resume of accomplishments that he has overseen at Penn State, but he is struggling mightily when it matters most, dealing with crisis management and minimizing damage.
There is no arguing that Jerry Sandusky put the key in the ignition and revved up the engine, but Graham Spanier had the opportunity to put on the emergency break. Instead, he is driving the reputation of Penn State’s football program off Mount Nittany.
Will he make a sound before it crashes?