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Guy Gadowsky Grilled on Toronto Radio for 409 Stickers

Following athletic director Sandy Barbour’s apology about the “409” stickers the hockey team chose to wear on its helmets during its game against Michigan State, calling the gesture “inappropriate and insensitive,” head coach Guy Gadowsky joined Mike Hogan and Dave Feschuk on TSN Radio in Toronto for an awkward interview concerning the program’s decision to honor the achievements of the late Joe Paterno.

“It’s something for the student body that’s here,” Gadowsky said when asked to explain why the team chose to celebrate a symbol that many across the nation have come to equate with the alleged cover up of the Sandusky scandal. “That’s what it was about. The student body here has done great work. They know their position, and continue to do great work in terms of child abuse, but also with THON.”

Gadowsky pointed to the $25 million Penn State has raised for pediatric cancer over the last two years as one of the many notable achievements of the student body, including a commitment to academics. He stressed that the stickers were a “one time thing” meant to recognize something the students took pride in, “nothing less, nothing more.”

The third-year coach, who was hired by the university in the midst of the scandal in April 2011, would not offer his own personal opinion on the stickers, instead stating that he would speak with Barbour personally about the decision.

Hogan, who claimed to be following the scandal closely, said his initial reaction to the stickers was that it was “opening a wound.” Gadowsky clarified that it wasn’t the intention to resurface strong emotions, but rather to “turn the page.”

“It was something to help them (the students) feel good about their institution,” Gadowsky said. “Remember, they had absolutely nothing to do with anything, and they continue to do a tremendous job, and it was something in support of them.”

The most tense point of the interview came when Hogan asked Gadowsky point blank about how the victims would feel about the stickers. After a 20-second pause, including a few stammers, Gadowsky finally offered an answer, reiterating his previous comments.

“You’re moving it toward the victims,” Gadowsky said. “This was a symbol in support of our student body. It wasn’t towards anything else. It was in support of the students who could finally feel good and try to move forward.”

Gadowsky acknowledged that there are people on both sides of the issue: those who support the celebration of Paterno’s wins, and those who believe it’s an inappropriate gesture that’s shameful to the victims. In his experience, Gadowsky said there were “many, many people” who shared positive thoughts about the stickers.

The coach closed his interview by stating one final time that those who work, study, and compete at Penn State are not in any way affiliated with a scandal that resulted in the ousting of the school president, the long-time football coach, and the athletic director, among others, with Sandusky spending time in jail for the rest of his life.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been easy,” Gadowsky said about handling the public perception of the university. “No one here presently, and none of the student athletes and none of the student body, had anything to do with that. And honestly, it’s the best university that I’ve seen in terms of student body and people working for good. The amount of good that this university does for charities and people of need and cancer is unbelievable, and everybody buys into it.”

The entire audio of the interview can be found here.

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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