Terry Pegula’s whopping $88 million gift isn’t going anywhere.
But for Penn State, it also isn’t coming without some strong words of warning.
In an interview with TSN, Canada’s leading English-language sports network, the Carbondale native and owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers said he was standing behind his alma mater, but he also demanded accountability from school officials — not to mention former head football coach Joe Paterno — in the wake of the crippling child sex abuse scandal.
Last year, Pegula and his wife, Kim, gave the largest financial gift ever made to Penn State to construct a new hockey arena and start NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs.
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“Whomever may have been involved in any way, anyone who knew anything, they’ve got to come clean,” Pegula told TSN of the scandal. “They’ve got to step forward and say, ‘Here’s what I know, here’s what happened’ and that includes you know who.
“This is not about covering your (backside). Telling the truth now will go a long way towards getting everyone through this. If there’s going to be a blind allegiance to anyone or anything here, it needs to be the university and to the truth. ... That’s how we get to the bottom of what happened, that’s how we get our image back.”
Pegula told TSN he plans to become more active in making sure “the right things are done” at Penn State, and he expressed his confidence in board of trustees Vice Chairman John Surma as the right person to lead the clean-up.
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against young boys, including two alleged assaults on Penn State’s campus in the showers of a football facility.
The scandal has led to the ousting of university President Graham Spanier and Paterno, and perjury charges against athletic director Tim Curley, who has been placed on administrative leave, and Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department.
Schultz, Curley and Sandusky have all maintained their innocence.
As for his massive gift to the university, Pegula said he had no intention of revoking it. Not after he saw the effect national media coverage on the event has had on students and alumni. He called reaffirming the gift “a very easy decision.”
“If you are a student at Penn State or an instructor or an administrator, imagine how your life has changed. It would be enough to put your head down,” Pegula said. “It’s such a terrible thing and you would almost want to blame yourself ... but the students there can’t be blamed for what happened. They shouldn’t put their head down. They should be proud to be at Penn State and carry on with their lives.
“It’s a great school and an unprecedented thing has happened here.
“There are a lot of people at Penn State not involved in any of this. Most of them, actually. It doesn’t help to make them feel any worse.”
Pegula graduated from Penn State in 1973, majoring in petroleum and natural gas engineering. He founded East Resources in 1983, a natural gas drilling company which he sold to Royal Dutch Shell for more than $4.5 billion in 2010.