The orthopedic physician who was named Penn State’s athletic director in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky scandal said Tuesday his first few months on the job were like working in a trauma ward.
“You had to learn triage,” said Dave Joyner, who announced Tuesday he is retiring in August.
Joyner was named acting athletic director in November 2011, and his two and a half years on the job would encompass the most tumultuous period in the university’s history.
His predecessor, Tim Curley, eventually would be charged, along with Gary Schultz and former President Graham Spanier, with covering up child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky. And the university would be hit with unprecedented sanctions from the NCAA, including a $60 million fine and loss of scholarships and bowl eligibility.
Joyner said the athletic department was in “100-percent crisis mode” for more than a year, until January 2013. He said he barely had time to sit down at his work desk for six weeks in late 2011.
“The best way to sum it up, let’s say an athletic department operates normally at 1,000 RPM. We were operating at 6,000 RPMs every day,” he said. “Every time you’d issue a statement about something, (even) something that would normally not be on the radar, the emotions were so (high), it would cause a firestorm.”
Former president Rodney Erickson on Tuesday praised the job Joyner did, pointing to what he called the success of Penn State teams and strong coaching hires such as Bill O’Brien, who succeeded legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
“I always try to give credit to everyone else,” Joyner said Tuesday. “My job is to set the framework so people can be successful. Then you turn good people loose. We’ve got so many good people.”
Joyner said Tuesday he always tried to do what he thought was right.
“People might not always agree, and I respect that,” he said. “When Rod Erickson asked me to help in this crisis, I agreed. That’s the reason why I accepted.”
When asked specifically about Paterno, for whom Joyner played, the athletic director called him the “greatest football coach.”
“Things happened that were unfortunate and terrible,” he said. “Whatever I did, I did because that’s what I thought I had to do.”
Joyner doesn’t have specific plans for retirement, but said he looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren.
“I won’t let moss grow under me,” he said.