No 'Sweet Caroline' at Penn State games, no public allowed in most athletic facilities
The Penn State football team takes the field against Alabama on September 10, 2011.
August 28th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

No 'Sweet Caroline' at Penn State games, no public allowed in most athletic facilities

Penn State football fans will no longer be singing "Sweet Caroline" while cheering on their Nittany Lions, according to university officials.

Neil Diamond's classic song, often sung at sporting events and particularly at Boston Red Sox baseball games, has been rotated out of the playlist for Beaver Stadium this year.

Chatter quickly began building on the State College campus and on social media platforms after the Altoona Mirror newspaper reported that officials were concerned about the lyrics to the song, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He continues to maintain his innocence.

The song, said to be written about Caroline Kennedy, contains the lyrics: "Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you."

But those words, and the scandal, have nothing to do with removing the song from the game day playlist, Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN.

"Absolutely no song changes were made based on lyrics. This song has come up on the list in recent years because it happens to be played in so many other professional and collegiate venues and has no real origination here at Penn State," he said. "So while wholesale changes to what happens on game day are not in store, some 'updating' is going to occur, including the music playlist."

La Torre said the updating happened to include "Sweet Caroline" and noted that these changes happen "each year for both recorded music and the Blue Band," which plays at the games. The Altoona Mirror has recently updated its story to reflect that the choice was not made because of song lyrics.

While the playlist update may not be a result of the scandal, there has been one change that grew out of the Sandusky incident.

The numerous athletic facilities around Penn State will no longer be available to the public, a decision that Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers tells CNN was made as a result of several factors.

One of those factors was a recommendation made in a report to evaluate security and access to these facilities. The report followed an investigation headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, which found that several university leaders had "empowered" Jerry Sandusky to continue his abuse.

"Until this change we were the only institution in the Big Ten that allowed any members of the public to access our facilities," Powers said. "We are always concerned first and foremost about the safety of people on our campus, and permitting anyone to access the facilities without challenge increases the possibility of a safety concern."

The ice rink, natatorium and the golf course are the only places where the new policy won't apply. It will apply to the Lasch Football Building where Michael McQueary said he observed Sandusky involved in sexual activity with a boy in the coach's shower room.

Powers added that the school also decided that the facilities should foremost benefit the students, who in some cases paid fees to help them be built. She added that there are limited athletic and recreational facilities on campus and the school wanted to make sure students had access to the areas they needed.

"For all these reasons, it was in our best interest to update our policies in this regard," Powers told CNN.

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Guedde

    They should play Van Halen's "Hot for the Teacher."

    August 29, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rizzo

    "has no real origination here at Penn State"
    Uh, then how come the entire Saloon used to sing it on Thursday nights when we were all blasted on Monkey Boys? I don't think song lyrics cause pedophilia, it's a serious psychological disorder.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jack

    its really sad that everyone is paying for this. then again this is America where no one is responsible for their own actions...its everyone elses fault. Whats next they come to all of our houses and remove any penn state stuff we have?

    August 29, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • YouArePennState

      Explain to me how you are 'paying for this'? How exactly has your life changed? Please tell us.

      August 30, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • ~~~

      in this case, other people enabled it. so...it's a problem. leadership at that school, and quite frankly that means the State, has issues.

      September 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wrm

    What the?

    These are supposedly fully grown relatively intelligent people that are making these decisions, right?

    August 29, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Juan Moore Beer

    The trustees are only worried about what the student body might come up with to make fun of the lyriics in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. I could see the "touching me, touching you" lines getting some special attention.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mitchell

    This was a tragic episode that effected the life's of children who first were abused by an awful person. Then were not protected by those in power to stop it decided that money and image was more important.

    August 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • C. Calvao

      And the banning of "Sweet Caroline" is connected how???

      August 30, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    They need to change the name of the school, since "Penn" and "pedophile" both begin with the letter "P". It's for the children! And good call on banning the public from Penn athletic facilities. Seeing that the horrific crimes were perpetrated by one of Penn State's own, I'd suggest also banning anyone affiliated with Penn State as well.

    August 30, 2012 at 7:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. C. Calvao

    Apparently decision makers at Penn State have never been "touched" by a tragic event; never been "touched" by the beauty of a sunset; never been "touched" by the words of an eloquent eulogy at the memorial service of a family member; never been "touched" by the kindness of a stranger.

    Sure, the lyrics had nothing to do with the decision!! And pigs fly at College Station.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gerard

      It's State College. College Station is in Texas.

      September 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Uncle Pat

    Removing Joey P's statue was wise. This is just plain silly.

    August 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ....

    no amount of money, fines, trophies beening stripped, song changes etc .... will ever change what happened to those boys.... very sad situation

    August 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tom

    "We are always concerned first and foremost about the safety of people on our campus..."

    Uh- I can think of at least 10 former minor children who may not agree with this assessment.

    August 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. John

    So the fact that Neil Diamond admitted writing this about an 11 year old Caroline Kennedy has nothing to do with not using it anymore? Sure, I'll buy that too many teams are using it right now.

    August 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. yoli

    I think it's weird that Neil Diamond wrote a song about a CHILD – 'touching me, touching you'. It's creepy.

    September 2, 2012 at 2:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mr. Hand

    "Absolutely no song changes were made based on lyrics". Yeah. OK. These people just can't quit lying.

    September 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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