Paterno as Penn State coach
February 10th, 2013
12:42 PM ET

Paterno family: Freeh report 'factually wrong'

The family of the late Joe Paterno released a report Sunday morning that absolved the coaching great of blame in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and said a prior review commissioned by Penn State University was "factually wrong, speculative and fundamentally flawed. "

Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh put together the new report, the Paterno family said in a written statement.

"The experts determined that the conclusions of the (university) report are based on raw speculation and unsupported opinion - not facts and evidence," Thornburgh said, according to the statement.

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Filed under: College football • Crime • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Pennsylvania • Sports
February 1st, 2013
08:19 PM ET

Manti Te'o hoaxer's voice said to match recordings

The voice on telephone messages left for Manti Te'o matches that of the 22-year-old man who says he posed as a woman in carrying on a relationship - by e-mail and over the phone - with the Notre Dame linebacker, according to the "Dr. Phil" show.

"They all say, with scientific certainty, that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the female voice in those recordings," host Phil McGraw said, citing conclusions by forensic voice analysts with three independent contractors.

That conclusion supports Tuiasosopo's assertion that, posing as a woman, he was involved in a relationship with Te'o, who had not known that his love interest was a man.

Te'o rose to prominence while leading Notre Dame's Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season. This year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, he told interviewers in September and October that his grandmother and girlfriend, whom he described as a 22-year-old Stanford University student, had died within hours of each other.

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Filed under: College football • Hoax • Manti T'eo • Sports
Penn State supporters mark anniversary of Joe Paterno's death
Loyal fans gather Tuesday at a mural depicting late football coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State luminaries.
January 22nd, 2013
10:02 PM ET

Penn State supporters mark anniversary of Joe Paterno's death

On the anniversary of the death of Joe Paterno, a few dozen people visited a mural depicting the image of the college football coaching legend whose legacy was tarnished by the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

With the temperature in single digits, about 40 fans in State College, Pennsylvania, stopped by the mural that depicts Paterno and other prominent figures in Penn State University history, according to video shot by CNN affiliate WHP.

Paterno died January 22, 2012, at age 85 in a State College hospital, according to his family. He had been suffering from lung cancer and a broken pelvis.

He had been the all-time leader in major college football victories for a coach, with 409 wins. But a decision by the governing body of major college sports struck 111 victories from his record, beginning in 1998 - a move that posthumously bumped him from the top of the list.

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Report: Te'o's dead girlfriend a hoax
January 16th, 2013
08:14 PM ET

Report: Te'o's dead girlfriend a hoax

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said Wednesday he was the victim of a "sick joke" that resulted in the creation of an inspirational story that had him overcoming the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend as the team marched toward the BCS National Championship Game.

His statement came after the sports website Deadspin published an article that called the girlfriend story a "hoax" and raised questions about whether she ever existed.

Jack Swarbrick, director of athletics at Notre Dame, told reporters Wednesday night that Te'o was the victim of an elaborate hoax. "And he will carry that with him for a while," Swarbrick said.

Te'o's own words on girlfriend

Social media lights up over story

Notre Dame official chokes up

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ESPN apologizes for Musburger comments on quarterback's girlfriend
Former Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb drew just as much attention as her boyfriend Monday night
January 8th, 2013
05:29 PM ET

ESPN apologizes for Musburger comments on quarterback's girlfriend

The attention that Brent Musburger gave to the girlfriend of Alabama's quarterback during last night's championship college football game apparently made ESPN a little uncomfortable.

ESPN on Tuesday afternoon apologized for the play-by-play man's gushing about Katherine Webb's beauty as the network showed her in the stands at the game Monday night.

"We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that," ESPN said.

CNN was not able to reach Musburger for comment through ESPN.

"Wow, I'm telling you, quarterbacks you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow!" Musburger said during one of his several in-game comments. Webb subsequently became an Internet sensation as Alabama trounced Notre Dame. Read more about Musburger's comments, the public's reaction, and the reaction from Webb herself.

November 10th, 2012
07:17 PM ET

No. 1 Alabama falls to No. 15 Texas A&M

Top-ranked Alabama was defeated Saturday night by Texas A&M, 29-24, shaking up the BCS National Championship picture.

A dramatic finish stunned the crowd in Tuscaloosa.

Despite the loss, Alabama, the defending national champion, still has a shot at this year's crown.

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Fresh charges filed against ex-Penn State officials in Sandusky case
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier faces charges in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
November 1st, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Fresh charges filed against ex-Penn State officials in Sandusky case

[Updated at 1:01 p.m. ET] New charges have been filed against three former Penn State officials in the Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal, accused of having "used their positions to conceal and cover up for years the activities of a known child predator," Pennsylvania's attorney general said Thursday.

Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier charged for the first time in the case and former Athletic Director Tim Curley and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz now face the same five charges: obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and failure to report allegations of child abuse.

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LSU's 'Honey Badger' Mathieu arrested on drug charge
Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu was a Heisman finalist in the 2011 college football season.
October 25th, 2012
10:21 PM ET

LSU's 'Honey Badger' Mathieu arrested on drug charge

Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu - a Heisman Trophy finalist last year at Louisiana State University, only to be suspended from the football team months later - was arrested Thursday on a drug charge, Baton Rouge police said.

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Sandusky transferred to state prison
Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting boys over a 15-year period.
October 23rd, 2012
05:08 PM ET

Sandusky transferred to state prison

Convicted sex offender and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was transferred Tuesday to a prison in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Corrections said.

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Jerry Sandusky's lawyers seek new trial
October 18th, 2012
04:57 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky's lawyers seek new trial

Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are seeking a new trial for their client, according to court documents filed Thursday in Centre County court in Pennsylvania.

The convicted sex abuser and former Penn State assistant football coach was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison after being convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys during a 15-year period.

Read the appeal documents (PDF)

The once-beloved coach, whose abuse triggered a scandal for one of the nation's most storied college football teams, was given credit for 112 days served.

In addition to requesting a new trial, his lawyers also filed a motion Thursday to reconsider the sentence.

The lawyers argue that there was insufficient evidence to convict Sandusky, and that the court didn't allow them enough time to prepare for trial. They also argue, among other things, that certain counts should have been dismissed on the grounds that they were too general and non-specific, preventing Sandusky from preparing an adequate defense.

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October 9th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Victims angrily confront Sandusky at sentencing

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison at a hearing on Tuesday. It is, effectively, a life sentence.

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, and faced a maximum of 400 years in prison.

Four of Sandusky's victims were in court with their families. The victims were emotional as they addressed the court and faced down the convicted pedophile.

Sandusky remained stone-faced, while his family looked down during the victims' testimony. Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry Sandusky who at the end of the trial accused the former coach of abusing him, was not in the courtroom, CNN's Laura Dolan reported. Matt Sandusky's birth mother, Debra Long, sat in the back row of the courtroom.

One of Sandusky's victims, known as Victim No. 5, addressed the court during his sentencing.

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Jerry Sandusky gets sentence of 30 to 60 years for child sex abuse
Jerry Sandusky arrives at court on Tuesday morning for his sentencing.
October 9th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Jerry Sandusky gets sentence of 30 to 60 years for child sex abuse

Editor's note: Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, after a judge handed down a prison sentence Tuesday for his convictions on child sexual abuse charges. Judge John Cleland said Sandusky will face no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years, with credit for time served. He was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. The 68-year-old had faced a maximum of 400 years in prison. His attorneys have 10 days to appeal the decision. They have already vowed to appeal his conviction. Follow along below as we learn more details.

[Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET] Sandusky attorney Karl Rominger said that should the defense team succeed in getting a new trial, one of the strategies will be to argue that Sandusky may have crossed boundaries by showering with children, but that nothing illegal happened.

Rominger was responding to a question from In Session, after Tuesday’s sentencing, about how Sandusky’s showering with children can be defended.

“I don’t think it was ever couched as normal behavior ... but crossing boundaries may be Sandusky’s best defense,” Rominger said.

Rominger said that in a new trial, a psychologist would testify that crossing boundaries can “create victims that don’t exist."

“Nobody is saying (showering with children) is completely appropriate, but it’s not criminal,” Rominger said.

The defense team said it will appeal for a new trial, contending, among other things, that it was granted too little time to prepare for the case (see 10:45 a.m. entry). Sandusky contends he is innocent of the charges, and his team says he could have been acquitted if his lawyers had more time to examine the case.

[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] Here's a little detail of how Judge John Cleland explained his sentence in court:

The law allows a sentence of hundreds of years, the judge told Sandusky, but he called such a sentence too esoteric.

The judge wanted to give Sandusky a sentence that wasn't so “abstract,” something that Sandusky could understand, CNN’s Jason Carroll reported.

The judge effectively gave the 68-year-old Sandusky a life sentence, Carroll reported.

Sandusky will be 98 when he is first able to ask for parole.

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Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves court in handcuffs after his conviction.
September 17th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky may be sentenced on October 9 after a hearing to determine if he's a sexually violent predator, according to court documents.

After a three-week trial featuring emotional and often graphic testimony from eight of the former Penn State assistant football coach's victims, a 12-person jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts. There were convictions related to all 10 victims alleged by prosecutors, with the three not-guilty verdicts applying to three individuals.

The verdict prompted people in central Pennsylvania to breathe a sigh of relief, believing a man many called a "monster" would pay the price for his crimes and their impact on his victims, as well as the Penn State community.

Jurors did hear from eight young men who testified that as boys, Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts in showers in Penn State's athletics facilities, hotel rooms, the basement of his home and other places. The abuse spanned at least 15 years.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Forging a new meaning for the rally cry 'We Are...Penn State' 

Penn State scandal: Where things stand 

'Victim 1' sues Penn State over Sandusky abuse 

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway 

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions 

Reaction to the Sandusky verdict 

Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy' 

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Rebuilding a legacy
August 31st, 2012
10:19 PM ET

Penn State scandal: Where things stand

The Penn State football team started its first season since former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

The Nittany Lions' home game against Ohio University also will be the first time since 1966 that the team starts a season without Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, two months after the board of trustees fired him for allegedly failing to take his knowledge of the scandal to appropriate authorities.

Though Sandusky was convicted in June, many parts of the Sandusky matter have not been resolved. Here is where things stand in the scandal:

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Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway
The brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's was removed on Thursday after photos posted online sparked complaints.
August 30th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway

A brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's name and that of his Second Mile charity has been removed from a walkway in downtown State College, Pennsylvania.

The brick is one of nearly 3,000 along Centennial Walkway in the downtown part of campus. The bricks bear the names of many notable figures from Penn State, including former President Graham Spanier and his wife as well as other alumni.

The Sandusky brick had gone mostly unnoticed as students passed through McAllister Alley, not far from the school's Old Main building, until it was noticed on Wednesday by the student-run independent Penn State blog Onward State and photographed by others, including a CNN journalist in State College.

The photo prompted calls for it to be pulled up, considering the school had torn down a statue of legendary former coach Joe Paterno in the wake of a scandal that has left Sandusky jailed for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. The school had no authority to remove the brick, many mentioned, since it wasn't on Penn State property.

Pat Daugherty, owner of the Tavern, a restaurant located along the walkway, said he received a call from State College Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine II on Thursday morning saying he had received calls after the photos circulated online.

"We honestly were not aware the brick was there until a day or two ago," Fountaine said.

He said it took a couple days to figure out whether officials could remove the brick, because ownership of the pedestrian walkway was unclear, but it wasn't specifically borough property.

That's when Fountaine called Daughterty, who offered to remove the brick.

"There was some vandalism that was occurring as well," Fountaine said. "Because of that and other issues, we thought it was appropriate to remove it."

Daugherty said he would probably return the brick to the borough because somebody had probably paid to have it put there during the school's centennial celebration.

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions
Penn State's trophy for their win in the 2006 Orange Bowl game is one of several they will return because of NCAA sanctions.
August 29th, 2012
04:27 PM ET

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions

Penn State will have to return all of the football trophies they won during a 14-year span as a result of sanctions handed down by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for school's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, a school official said on Wednesday.

The move is another blow to the State College community, which has been plagued by the scandal for nine months.

Earlier this summer the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned the football program from bowl games for four years, stripped scholarships and vacated the team's wins from 1998 to 2011 following the Freeh Report, which issued a scathing statement about how much the university knew and when.

"Per the NCAA consent decree, all football team trophies won from 1998-2011 are to be returned to the awarding authority and we plan to do so," said Jeff Nelson, assistant athletic director of communications for football at Penn State.

Some of the trophies that the school will have to return include their bowl game wins. Penn State won the Outback Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Alamo Bowl in 1999 and 2007, the Orange Bowl in 2006 and the Capital One Bowl in 2010.

While those residing in Happy Valley are still trying to resurrect their image in the wake of the scandal and show they still back their team, they do have one thing to smile about this week as they head into their first football game without famed coach Joe Paterno in more than four decades.

Their spirit has won them $10,000 for the school's general scholarship fund after they beat out more than 200 other schools in a voting campaign hosted on ESPN.com, according to a press release sent out by the school.

Penn State led the competition from start to end, the release said.

“We are elated to see this incredible expression of Penn State pride, spirit and support demonstrated by our students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends and fans in winning the Pledge Your Allegiance contest,” Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, said in a statement. “This national victory is what Nittany Nation is all about. We know Penn Staters everywhere will join us in celebrating by wearing their blue and white with great pride.”

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.

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LSU: Heisman hopeful Mathieu, aka 'Honey Badger,' dismissed for breaking team rules
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu speaks to the media before the BCS championship in January.
August 10th, 2012
03:10 PM ET

LSU: Heisman hopeful Mathieu, aka 'Honey Badger,' dismissed for breaking team rules

It's been said that Honey Badger don't care, but what may be more accurate is that Honey Badger don't play - at least not for the LSU Tigers.

The team, which played in last year's national college football championship game, announced this afternoon that their top player and arguably the nation's best cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu, has been dismissed for violating team policy.

“This is a very difficult day for our team,” head coach Les Miles said. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences."

Miles added, “It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”

LSU did not say which team rule Mathieu broke. The 20-year-old All-American ran into trouble last year when he and two other players violated the team's drug policy. ESPN reported at the time that the trio tested positive for synthetic marijuana.

Mathieu and the others were suspended for their team's game against Auburn.

Despite missing the game, Mathieu was still a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to college football's best player, as a sophomore. In addition to winning the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player, he came in fifth in Heisman voting with 34 first-place votes and was the only defensive player among 10 finalists.

According to LSU, the Columbus, Ohio, native who attended high school in New Orleans, has registered 133 tackles - 16 for a loss - in 26 games for the Tigers. He also has four picks, 11 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries, as well as four touchdowns, two on punt returns and two on fumble returns.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Mathieu got his nickname for his fearlessness on the gridiron. Honey badgers are known to scrap with animals many times their size, including lions, and even tangle (successfully) with poisonous snakes.

Said the Dallas Cowboys' Morris Claiborne, a former teammate of Mathieu's: "Tyrann deserved the nickname ... because the honey badger takes what it wants, and Tyrann takes what he wants on the field," ESPN reported today in a profile.

The sports network had to add an editor's note, saying, "This story was published prior to Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from LSU's football program on August 10."

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July 26th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Report: Penn State faced 4-year 'death penalty'

Penn State faced a multiyear shutdown of its football program had it not agreed with the sanctions imposed by the NCAA earlier this week, university President Rodney Erickson told ESPN.

The football program at Penn State faced a four-year "death penalty," a complete cessation of football activities, Erickson said, according to the ESPN report, as well as fines well in excess of the $60 million levied.

The four-year death penalty option was confirmed by NCAA President Mark Emmert, who said in a separate interview with ESPN that what the network termed "a core group of NCAA school presidents" had agreed on the unprecedented sanctions.

Once Penn State learned of the NCAA intentions, school officials engaged in five days of secret discussions with the NCAA that resulted in the penalties announced Monday, ESPN reported. Those include the record $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, a four-year reduction in football scholarships and five years of probation. Penn State also was forced to vacate its football victories since 1998, including 111 by the late coach Joe Paterno.

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Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy'
An image of a Nittany Lion with the message of "Rise" has been popular on Twitter among Penn State alums and supporters.
July 25th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy'

The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State University and football fans across the nation culminated this week in an unprecedented fine of $60 million against the school and severe sanctions for the Division I football program. The Nittany Lions are banned from the postseason for four years, will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons and had 14 seasons of football victories from the late coach Joe Paterno vacated.

There's been no shortage of commentary on the issue: Was the NCAA too quick to make the decision? What will it mean for football? What does it mean for the legacy of Paterno?

But there's also the issue of how the Penn State community will now come together. Alums have responded in force, tweeting, posting photos and defending their school not for the actions that occurred but to show the rest of the world they won't let this scandal be their school's best known chapter.

Some have posted photos with the "WE ARE" Penn State chant but somewhat altered. One said: "Don't let people who don't know who 'we are' ... tell us who WE ARE." It has been a rallying cry of sorts, joining together alums from long ago with recent graduates. Many have been tweeting with the hashtag #WeAreAndAlwaysWillBe. Groups on Facebook have been created so alums and current students can share their views, including one called "We Are (still) Penn State."

"This is a group dedicated to healing the scars of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, recognizing and honor the victims and rebuilding the reputation of Penn State University and its football team as one of the premier institutions of higher learning and athletic tradition not only in the country but in the entire world," the group's page said. "We still believe that 'Success With Honor' is who we are, and that Coach Bill O'Brien is the best man to carry on that tradition on and off the field. The actions of an evil man and those that enabled and apologized for him do not define us, and it is our responsibility to write the next chapter in the history of Penn State."

Patterson Weaver, a lawyer who graduated from Penn State in 2001, posted a lengthy note on Facebook describing how he cannot reconcile what happened with the school he knows. Weaver said the world should know the actions of the few responsible should not define the culture of the university as a whole.

Weaver has given CNN permission to post his note in entirety below:

"Apparently, Sports Illustrated will run a cover this week that reads 'We Were Penn State.' Sports Illustrated and so many others clearly have no understanding of who We are. As a second-generation Penn State grad, I have grown up idolizing Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the excellent institution of higher learning that Penn State was, is, and will always be. I am one of hundreds of thousands that consider the Penn State community something unique and special. This goes beyond a football field. This goes beyond school pride. The culture at Penn State, in no small part because of Joe Paterno, taught all of us how to be better people, better friends, and better members of our families and our community.

"So how do I reconcile that with the allegations that a few individuals, including Joe Paterno, remained silent about the terrible actions of Sandusky? Honest answer is I can’t. The allegations do not gel with what each of us learned from our university, and yes, from Joe Paterno. Penn State has always been a beacon of how to do things the right way. Of putting academics and building quality young men and women ahead of fame and wins. I cannot reconcile these allegations with the culture that helped mold who I am. The culture that helped teach me that success is only sweet when done right. That a loss with integrity is better than a win without it. That who we are as men and women is more important than fleeting glory. I cannot reconcile what people are saying of my school with the school I lived and experienced.

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