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PS4RS Members respond to BoT Chairman Karen Peetz’s message to alumni on July 18, 2012 on the Freeh Report

Dear Ms. Peetz,

I read your recent letter to alumni which says in part, “I am certain that many of you have read or heard about the report’s findings…” Your statement last Thursday that Coach Paterno’s record of service to Penn State has been “marred” indicates to me that you read no more than the findings before you made this irresponsible and, were Coach Paterno still alive, possibly defamatory statement to the news media. This is also not the first but rather the second time you have done something like this; the first was on 11/9 when you joined your colleagues in an equally irresponsible and reckless rush to judgment based on incomplete evidence.

I know that the report was released on the morning of the July 12 meeting, and that neither you nor your colleagues had a chance to go through the 200-plus page report to identify its multiple deficiencies, omissions, and contradictions of its own findings. This is not however an acceptable excuse for anybody in a managerial or leadership position. The truth is that the report’s own contents show that Coach Paterno, President Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz exercised due and responsible diligence—exactly the kind of diligence that the Board has now failed to exercise on at least two occasions—in dealing with the allegations against Mr. Sandusky. Other alumni and I are now however doing your jobs for you, and here are some of our discoveries.

(1)  The report stipulates (page 51) that Paterno objected to the presence of Second Mile children on campus for any purpose whatsoever. “Is this [Sandusky’s access to Penn State athletic facilities] for personal use or 2nd Mile kids? No to 2nd Mile. Liability problems.” Freeh nonetheless blames him for not keeping Sandusky and/or the 2nd Mile children off campus.

(2)  Even though the report blames Penn State for not keeping Sandusky off campus, or out of the Lasch Building, it admits (page 81) that University counsel (Cynthia Baldwin) said that the University could not legally revoke Sandusky’s access to the athletic facilities because of his Emeritus status, and because he had not been convicted of a crime. Page 106 reiterates this stipulation. Page 107 adds that Baldwin said “his access could not be eliminated without the University being sued.” The report therefore condemns Penn State’s administrators for not doing something their attorney said could get them sued.

(3)  The report also stipulates (page 69) that Schultz asked Attorney Wendell Courtney for legal advice on the subject of reporting suspected child abuse. The Freeh Group admits that it could not find out what advice Courtney provided, but it nonetheless accuses Schultz and others of a cover-up without having this information in hand. The bottom line is however that Schultz exercised what appears to be due diligence by asking an attorney what obligations the University had regarding the 2001 shower incident.

(4)  The report admits that Curley told the Executive Director of the 2nd Mile about the 2001 shower incident, and the Director then told two 2nd Mile Trustees. They concluded that it was a “non-incident,” but Freeh’s press release and findings do not carry a single word of blame for the 2nd Mile.

The Second Mile, the Department of Public Welfare (which should have told the 2nd Mile about the 1998 incident even though Sandusky was not prosecuted), and Governor Corbett are all conspicuous by their absence from the Freeh Group’s harsh findings. As Attorney General, Corbett delayed prosecution of Sandusky so he could “gather more evidence” (http://www.yardbird.com/Freeh_report_ignores_Corbett_inaction.htm and http://www.fox43.com/news/dauphin/wpmt-corbett-defends-length-of-sandusky-investigation-20120625,0,467687.story), i.e. allow Sandusky to keep doing what he was doing in the meantime. When Mr. Corbett became a Trustee ex officio, he then withheld from his fellow Trustees knowledge of the problem with Sandusky until he pretended to be surprised by it on November 9. He also apparently accepted campaign contributions from 2nd Mile leaders while he was investigating Sandusky, and approved a state grant to the 2nd Mile.

The Freeh Report’s failure to even mention these organizations’ and Governor Corbett’s roles in allowing Sandusky to continue his activities taints the entire work product with a perception of incomplete work at best. The only things that have been “marred” by this report are therefore the Freeh Group’s brand name, and also Trustee Peetz’s own record of service to Penn State for accepting its findings without (apparently) reviewing the information presented above. To recap:

(1)  On 11/9, the Trustees turned the Sandusky scandal into the Penn State scandal by effectively accepting blame on Penn State’s part for Sandusky’s activities.

(2)  The Trustees then brought in the Freeh Group to deliver what is, in my opinion as supported by the facts above and others, an incompletely researched product that does not support its own conclusions, and even contradicts its own conclusions.

(3)  Trustee Peetz, without apparently reading and assessing the report’s contents as shown by her statement to the press, accepted the Freeh Report’s defective conclusions on Penn State’s behalf.

Regards,

–Bill Levinson B.S. ‘78

I felt the need to write this and share. I’m sharing with all of you. Enjoy. Greg DeVoir

My Penn State – Not What You’ve Heard

Here’s my Penn State story. I was a a so-called weather weenie and band geek from Andover, MA (also coincidentally the home town of new PSU Head Football Coach, Bill O’Brien, with whom I went to Andover West Junior High). My top college choice was Penn State due to its top-rated Meteorology program. Penn State also happened to have a pretty darned good (marching) Blue Band, as well. It was as simple as that…I’d found my new home for the next 4 years.

As a devoted Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots fan, I looked forward to experiencing Division 1 intercollegiate athletics as well. Other than seeing an occasional picture of Mount Nittany and Joe Paterno and his coke-bottle glasses in Sports Illustrated and watching the 1986 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami, I knew little else about the school, except that I couldn’t wait to get there.

After arriving in Happy Valley, I quickly discovered how it had earned its name. While feverishly working through the rigorous science curriculum at Penn State, I made 260 new friends in the Penn State Blue Band, proudly marching alongside chemical, aerospace and civil engineers and assorted science majors in the saxophone section. The friendly, welcoming family environment of the Penn State family and gently rolling hills of central Pennsylvania had me calling this place home mere months after arriving. Penn State football notched its first losing season in over 30 years that autumn. We even lost to Rutgers (shudder). The media called for Paterno’s head. He was too old. Too conservative. Nonsense. He was molding men, graduating his players at rates far beyond those at most large college football programs, and setting a bar of excellence for all Penn Staters to emulate. Paterno wasn’t going anywhere…Penn State’s “football culture” valued academics over football every day of the week, and even on Saturdays.

In my years at Penn State, I had the privilege of studying under Dr. Gregory Forbes (now the Severe Storm Analyst on The Weather Channel), Dr. Craig Bohren (Distinguished Professor Emeritus and author or several books on Atmospheric Science and Optics) and Paul Knight (PA State Climatologist and long-time Weather World host on PA PBS) among others. I graduated and followed my dream of becoming a Meteorologist in the National Weather Service. I am thankful every day for the education I received at Penn State, the life-long friends I made and mentors who influenced and challenged me. Penn State was a special place.

Following graduation, Penn State joined the Big Ten. I moved around the country for nearly 10 years before luckily ending back up in State College, PA in 1999 after the NWS office in Harrisburg relocated, and I moved back after living in Boise, ID and La Crosse, WI. I met my future wife on a downtown elevator in the building in which we both worked. Life was good, but not just mine. Through the 1990s and 2000s, Penn State’s academic ratings soared. The campus grew. Joe and Sue Paterno funded construction of the Paterno Library. “Without a great library, you can’t have a great University,” he said. It opened in the fall of 2000. During this time, President Graham Spanier oversaw incredible growth of University facilities , greatly enhancing University research and science programs through construction of the Information Sciences and Technology building, Chemistry Building and Millenium Science complex, among others. My teenage daughters had a blast at Penn State’s summer science camp. My 5-year old enjoyed Saturday art classes on the Penn State campus in the same building I’d attended lectures more than 20 years ago.

When the Jerry Sandusky scandal erupted in November of 2011, like many, I was shocked and appalled to hear the allegations, and waited patiently to hear the truth. Since then, a nearly steady diet of media sensationalism, speculation, half-truths and an unceasing lynch mob mentality seeking to blame and punish those “responsible” for “allowing” Sandusky to perpetrate his crimes have superseded all common sense and rational thinking before facts and truth are revealed in a court of law. Penn State’s “football culture” has been blamed for ”allowing Sandusky to continue raping innocent children.” Joe Paterno and other Penn State Administrators have been portrayed as evil enablers, accused of turning a blind eye while “knowing” what Sandusky was doing. I wait for the truth to be revealed, knowing the Penn State that’s been portrayed in the media is not the one I grew to know and love for the past 20 years.

For Mark Emmert, NCAA President, I have this to say. Basing sanctions on an extremely faulty and fact-deprived Freeh report is a travesty – you are punishing innocent people who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes. For Louis Freeh, while the list of recommendations to improve internal processes at Penn State was clearly needed, your damningly-worded report states “reasonable conclusions” as solid fact, upon which the NCAA has implemented unprecedented sanctions before the full truth has been revealed in a court of law. Furthermore, key witness testimony was not included in the findings of your report, either because they died (Paterno), were not consulted (Paterno family), were asked by the PA Attorney General to not be interviewed (McQueary, Schultz, Curley) or information gathered in your interview was completely ignored (Spanier), as we heard late Sunday in his letter to the Penn State Board of Trustees.

To those of my Facebook friends who wish for this to be out of the news (and my Facebook page) with the announcement of NCAA sanctions, I along with my fellow Penn State alums can’t allow that to happen – we merely want the truth to be revealed and will continue to push for that. Grave injustices have resulted from the clouding of truth thus far, irreparably harming innocent people, a wonderful community and a great University. Now, already reeling and struggling to uncover the truth of the last 13 years while enduring the endless scrutiny and hateful rhetoric over the past 8 months, Penn State is being brought to its knees by NCAA sanctions of an unprecedented nature, handed down without due process and punishing only the innocent.

I don’t blame you for being sick of hearing about this…Sandusky’s abuses are sickening. While it’s difficult to fathom how someone can evade detection while perpetrating such heinous crimes, it’s even more inconceivable to me that any good man could knowingly turn a blind eye to abuse, as has been widely accepted from the Freeh report without factual basis. That as many as four such men are accused of having done so (and the public at large believes this without a shadow of a doubt) with limited to no factual basis supporting it is baffling beyond words.

In short, at my Penn State, the one I came to know after growing up in Andover MA, it wouldn’t happen…football or no football…Paterno or no Paterno. This is what the general public fails to understand about Penn State University and Penn State grads in general. We didn’t drink the Kool Aid. We’re not members of NAMBLA. We went to a University where the values and principles of a great man, Joe Paterno, would never have KNOWINGLY allowed Sandusky’s crimes to continue. That crimes continued is not evidence of a cover up…it’s proof that despite concerns and suspicions, efforts and failed investigations into inappropriate behavior, Sandusky continually evaded detection due to failures in human judgment rather than willful enabling, neglect and disregard.

The Freeh report was commissioned BY Penn State FOR Penn State to uncover and learn from such failures in judgment. I believe the facts will ultimately show that willful neglect was not part of the equation, but it will take time for the media hysteria and drum beating to cease and the truth to be revealed. Ironically, the NCAA sanctions are perhaps the best thing to happen at this time, because for the first time in months, Penn State can start its new beginning as the media jackals grow more silent. Calmer heads can prevail as tabloid journalists tire of picking over Penn State’s bones. The Schultz and Curley trials will take place, and in this environment, I’m hopeful that the truth can come out. It has to, doesn’t it? Because for me, what we have now still doesn’t make sense in any rational way, shape or form. I only wonder…will anyone listen then?

For those of you who’ve read this in its entirety, I thank you. There is no need to post comments of agreement or disagreement…since all of the facts and their worthy conclusions have yet to be uncovered. Speculation on top of speculation helps no-one. Rest assured, if/when the truth is revealed and if I’m found to be dead wrong, you’ll see my retractions. Until then, this University has been and will continue to be a great place. It is not what you’ve heard portrayed in the media. It is not a small group of drunken fools reacting in raw emotion at 1030 pm after Paterno’s abrupt firing last fall. Penn Staters care about Sandusky’s victims and will continue to support them while striving to prevent additional predators from victimizing innocent people. We’re proud of our University, although we are extremely disappointed in its leadership which has allowed the media to run rampant and frame the arguments and story from day one. Penn State was a great place before this happened. And Penn State will once again be a great place…a greater place. More than that, those who have made this community our home LOVE our town and cannot think of anyplace else we’d rather live. That now includes my former Andover, MA classmate, Coach Bill O’Brien.

Please bear with us as we clean up the mess and pull ourselves together after this unspeakable tragedy on so many levels. You’ll see us again in the not too distant future showing our Penn State pride. Don’t misconstrue this for what it’s not. It’s not misplaced. It’s not about football. It’s who we are. We are Penn State.

PS4RS Members respond to BoT Chairman Karen Peetz’s message to alumni on July 18, 2012 on the Freeh Report

-William A. Levinson, PSU B.S. ‘78

Dear Mr. Emmert, copied to PSU alumni,

Most people learn—let’s say in elementary school if they are on a safety patrol—that their authority covers very specific rules that everybody knows and recognizes. Somebody who uses his or her authority to make up rules, and also to act without due process and due diligence as you have just done with regard to Penn State, soon loses his authority if the organization values its credibility. You enforced a rule that is not in the NCAA’s list of rules, without proof that the rule you made up has even been broken—the Freeh Group is known for slipshod investigative workmanship (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1265466-ex-fifa-presidential-candidate-has-ban-annulled-and-how-it-connects-to-penn-st) and you also sidestepped the NCAA’s own disciplinary process. You also vacated Penn State’s wins without any evidence whatsoever that Penn State won the games by cheating (e.g. use of ineligible players, payments to student athletes, or whatever) which further underscores your arbitrary, capricious, and totally irresponsible use of your authority.

Henry Ford knew your kind quite well, and he wrote of them in “My Life and Work:”

“…a foreman knows as well as he knows his own name that if he has been unjust it will be very quickly found out, and he shall no longer be a foreman. One of the things that we will not tolerate is injustice of any kind. The moment a man starts to swell with authority he is discovered, and he goes out, or goes back to a machine.”

The Ford Motor Company enjoyed unprecedented success because, among other reasons, it did not tolerate your behavior even in a straw boss, the lowest supervisory position. Now the NCAA needs to apply Henry Ford’s advice to you before you destroy its ability to regulate college athletics in any way, shape, and form.

–Bill Levinson B.S. ‘78

To Penn State Trustees, copy to Alumni Association and Coach O’Brien, and to Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship

 November 8, 2011: we had a scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, and to a lesser degree Tim Curley and Gary Schultz (whose guilt is very open to doubt, and less believable in light of the Freeh Report’s actual contents)

 July 23, 2012: Penn State’s reputation is now ruined, and it will lose millions of dollars in revenue from postseason football games.

The blame for this rests of course with the Freeh Group’s irresponsible, poorly researched, and quite possibly defamatory press release and conclusions, but Trustee Karen Peetz opened the door to the NCAA’s equally irresponsible (in violation of its own rules and operating procedures) action by accepting Freeh’s conclusions publicly without any apparent thorough effort to review them. She said, in fact, that the Trustees had “begun” to review them. President Erickson also seems to have publicly accepted the conclusions without a diligent review.

If the Trustees had done their jobs, they would have realized that the Freeh Group has an established track record of incomplete investigative workmanship (e.g. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1265466-ex-fifa-presidential-candidate-has-ban-annulled-and-how-it-connects-to-penn-st). There is plenty wrong with its conclusions, and the Trustees would know that if they had done their jobs.

You have also done a major disservice to Coach O’Brien. I sent him an E-mail yesterday to the effect that, when he joined Penn State, he had in my opinion accepted a job from an unreliable and untrustworthy employer as shown by the Board’s treatment of Coach Paterno. Now Coach O’Brien will be unable to participate in post-season games thanks to the Trustees’ dereliction of duty (public acceptance of Freeh’s conclusions without much if any visible effort to assess their foundations) that opened the door to the NCAA’s actions, and he will have to work under the cloud of being under NCAA sanctions because of the Board’s actions and inactions. The young men who joined Penn State on the assumption that they were going to play for one of the most reputable (academically as well as athletically) teams in the country also have a right to know how their so-called Trustees and University President ruined a major part of their college experience for them.

If the Trustees and President Erickson fail to challenge the NCAA over these sanctions, it will further underscore their lack of fitness to lead Penn State. I guarantee you that if I have my way, we alumni will take matters into our own hands and do your jobs for you if we can identify any legal avenue by which to sue the NCAA.

 

Alumnus Jessi Lillo speaks out on Joe Paterno’s statue

Tear down JoePa’s statue? Abolish Penn State football? Close down the University? Yes, wonderful ideas. But only a beginning.

Right after that we need to tear down Mt. Rushmore, the Washington monument and any other statue, building, park or plaque that honors or bears the name of any of our elder statesmen who owned slaves. After all, thes…e men and those in their employ systematically raped, tortured and starved the generations of human slaves they owned. We must then redesign all of our currency because nearly every coin or banknote depicts one of these despicable humans. No matter that recalling and exchanging all U.S, hard currency will completely crash our economy (so what, those guys were bastards and our currency is offensive because of it?) because step 4 of the plan involves burning the Constitution. Those jackasses considered Blacks one fifth of a person and allowed those they governed to hang, beat and rape Black citizens for nearly 200 years without penalty.
Now that the little stuff (slavery, the Holocaust, institutional racism and rape by men of God)is obliterated, we can move on to what is REALLY wrong in the world- college football.

The ACC, Big Ten, and NCAA must go. One of these bodies allowed the other two to acquire universities with documented institutional cover-ups of multiple rapes and other crimes by their football players and staff. Granted, these crimes were against women and therefore not heinous enough to warrant the firing of a coach or anything, but we must wipe them out anyway. Carnegie Mellon has to go too. Do you know how many children were exploited and killed during the industrial revolution?

Members respond to BoT Chairman Karen Peetz’s message to alumni on July 18, 2012 on the Freeh Report

Hi Karen,

I just received your email that begins the process of moving forward and the encouragement it offers.  I further understand the difficult position the Board is in, as this whole situation raced from zero to sixty in a few seconds back in November.  I won’t get into my views on what could or couldn’t have been done better back then or since, as I can certainly understand that intense pressure often makes people say and do things far outside their norm.  I certainly hope that is the case, as the resumes of some of the people on the Board would clearly indicate they are able to do better.  I further recognize and understand the impossible balance that must be taken to ensure the respect for the victims, as well as the potential damages their lawsuits can expose our University to.  I further have no concept of the politics at play here, both internally and with the Pennsylvania government.

That said, I am writing to ensure you read and understand what is captured in this article – it is does a great job of crisply articulating the situation and how it so quickly got out of hand: http://www.johnziegler.com/editorials_details.asp?editorial=220 (to be honest upfront – it is probably a real 4-5 minutes of reading).  Please take the time to read it, digest it and please do something as a result, as it is what inspired me to write.  I have started other emails/letters in the past, but this pushed me to take the next step.  I continue to be amazed at the regular, ongoing missteps by the BOT that continue to make the situation worse. I am really just embarrassed that such a talented group can not re-group and set a course that both manages the “victim” situation, their own reputations and the greater good of the University.

I am beyond disappointed at the University’s lack of response in the media.  The media has to date – as this article points out – scripted the entire dialogue and there continues to be almost no response other than apologizes.  Again, as noted above, I understand the delicate balance, but the University is paying $6.5 million to ensure we have the best and brightest figuring out those messages that make us more than apologists.  I also understand that the University paid for the Freeh Report, but that doesn’t mean that you need to fall in step that every item in the report is correct and you agree with it.  People and Corporations regularly pay for consultants to come in to help with a situation, but they rarely say “thank you and 100% of what you said was true and we will implement”.  Leaders need to stand up to what is helpful, what could be corrected, but also let the media understand what is wrong with the report.  I could provide numerous analogies, but everyone experiences buyer’s remorse and that “report” provides a good deal of that.  More disappointing, but in step with the missteps so far, has been the management – or rather mismanagement -of its’ contents.

I feel like what is missing here is an understanding of branding.  I use branding only to hopefully get some understanding, though I firmly believe Joe has been mis-characterized and not because I am blind to the situation – quite the contrary, I have read nearly everything out there that hasn’t been sensationalized.  Joe Paterno was a key element of the Penn State brand – that is a fact and I will leave my views out of this.  Suffice it to say though – and that this article articulates – he is being made the central scapegoat.  His family is forced to defend him and I think they are the only ones drawing the right balance, but you have made them an island.  They are doing a great job of presenting facts and are just looking for ALL the facts to come out. I love their matter of fact assessment and believe there is FAR more to this story than has been written.  To continue to let him be the punching bag, is to let the Penn State brand continue to be the punching bag.  I am not suggesting he was flawless, or that there isn’t some culpability there, but you and your PR firm could readily step to his defense and thereby step to the defense of the Penn State brand.  It would go a long way to repairing major factions across the alumni and most importantly do it using facts and an understanding the media has not provided.  Instead his legacy and his family continue to be kicked to the curb by the BOT at a pace that only the media is beating you to. His dedication, moral code and what he did for the University deserves better.  I do understand Penn State is FAR more than Joe Paterno, but he is central to our brand, our pride and for many, our experience at the University and no one seems to understand this.  Fixing this rift, fixes many of the issues your alumni base is experiencing.

So, my summary, is please take a step back and set a course for our University that both manages the “victim” situation, your personal reputations and the greater good of the University.  Please demand something/anything from our well paid PR firm (s) and demand more from the Board that you now are the leader of.

Thank you for your time.

For the Glory,

Mark Z.,  BS, BA 1985

Members respond to BoT Chairman Karen Peetz’s message to alumni on July 18, 2012 on the Freeh Report

Dear Ms. Peetz:

I sat in that Trustees meeting this past Friday at the  Worthington-Scranton campus.

I endured the powerpoint presentations.  I  chuckled over Mark Dambly’s shallow back patting.  I saw right through Ken Frazier’s Party Line.

I suffered thru the Alumni Assocation’s chatter  on the brick courtyard.

I observed Messrs. Lubert & Joyner with  their hand signalings inside the meeting room and the furtive tete a tete out in  the foyer.

It must have been very difficult for you as you spoke at the  podium, seeing Steve Garban sitting dead ahead, that other members of your Board  are calling for his removal.

I applaud you for keeping the meeting going  and everyone on task.

However, I cannot applaud you for your exit from that building after the press  conference.

A strong leader would have emerged into the lobby with a presence.  They would have made eye contact.

They would not have escaped via a back access door.

This is all I need to know about the Leadership of my Alma Mater.

You see Karen, WE ARE the Alumni.  WE ARE the parents & grandparents of the Students.  WE ARE Penn State.

And WE ARE outraged.  WE ARE embarrassed.  Although WE ARE not lost, WE ARE looking for strong leadership for this Institution.

Although WE ARE loud, WE ARE asking for your strong voice against the Media  Hoardes.

WE ARE asking you to direct the narrative we so clearly have outlined for you.

WE ARE telling you this.  WE ARE wondering when you  will listen.

Wendy Silverwood
West Chester PA
PSU 1982