Penn State

Penn State sanctions: Alumni decry penalties

Courtney Lennartz, president of the University Park Undergraduate Association, said she thinks the NCAA is overstepping its jurisdiction.

“I think a lot of students are really upset and disappointed by the NCAA penalties. I think, quite honestly, they're ridiculous.”

She said only one penalty — the $60 million fine — will benefit victims.

“A lot of the other penalties are hurting the wrong people here,” Lennartz said.

Penn State board of trustees member Anthony Lubrano said Monday morning he was still digesting the NCAA announcement, but expressed anger about the process.

“I’m outraged as a board member that I’m going to be held accountable for this agreement, and yet I wasn’t included in the discussion that led to this agreement,” Lubrano said.

Pete Jensen, who graduated in December 2010 in communications and now lives in Bellmore, N.Y., said he’s thankful that the NCAA didn’t invoke the death penalty, for the sake of the State College economy and students in sports journalism.

“A complete shutdown would have hurt the wrong people,” he said. “Bowl ban, vacation of wins and a hefty fine certainly harms the program and its chances of being competitive over at least the next four or more years, but it’s not all about wins in my book. I would still support Penn State football — because of my sheer love for sports — if the team goes 0-12 for the next 10 years.”

“The bottom line is that the actions/inaction of some of the university’s most powerful figures has failed us, causing the lives of a number of children to be ruined. For that, the school simply needs to be held accountable. I can only hope that Penn State will pay its price, deal with the consequences and make alums like me proud with nothing but academic excellence, genuine philanthropy, and ‘Success with Honor’ in its athletic program moving forward.”

Maribeth Schmidt, spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said “by enabling yet another knee-jerk reaction — this time by the NCAA — the Penn State board of trustees has egregiously failed every single one of its constituents.

“It is beyond comprehension how the NCAA can possibly believe it has the power to control events that do not violate NCAA rules, nor how the NCAA can issue punishment without ever even launching an investigation in accordance with their own rules. What's unprecedented is the NCAA basing its conclusions on a report — the Freeh report — which on even a cursory review, the legal counsel of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has determined is fraught with factual and legal errors, filled with opinions and unsupported conclusions, and, in a word, faulty.

“Coach Paterno was never interviewed for the report, and the two university employees charged with crimes have not had their day in court. To rely upon such a report to issue punishment is beyond reckless, and should not be supported in any way by the leadership of Penn State. By agreeing to these sanctions, every single member of the Penn State board of trustees has blatantly failed in their fiduciary responsibilities to the university. With each passing hour, we are gaining additional alumni support in our demand to have them resign immediately.”

Adam Taliaferro, a newly elected trustee who played with Joe Paterno and recovered from major injuries sustained on the field, tweeted Monday that “NCAA says games didn’t exist ... I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did..I almost died playing 4 PSU ... punishment or healing?!?”

He later tweeted: “I truly believe the NCAA should have done something to promote and support healing 4 victims ... having hard time understanding everything.”

Jayne Miller, a 1976 graduate who ran unsuccessfully for trustee in the recent alumni election, said she thinks the penalties were justified. There has been an institution failure and a failure of leadership at Penn State, she said.

“The people in charge of that institution did everything possible to protect themselves and nothing to protect the children. ... What would you possibly say in defense against what has happened.”

Dan Byrd, president of the greater Pittsburgh chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, said he expected and could accept major sanctions, “however, this was overkill.”

“Total grandstanding by the NCAA and (Mark) Emmert who have never had any credibility. I agree with the $60 million going to children’s organizations that is a positive step. But the four year bowl and massive scholarship reductions only hurt current players and students who need grants. Rodney Erickson and any other Penn State official who signed off on this should resign today.”

Wayne Atherholt, a 1984 graduate from Penn State Capitol Campus, said he finds it very difficult to talk about the scandal.

“I will say that there was a time when universities were places of higher learning first and foremost and that games were quite secondary. It appears that Penn State may be headed back to that time and I only hope that students and their educations do not suffer as a result of any sanctions. I would be proud of Penn State students if they could continue to solve tomorrow’s problems and make our world a better place for everyone as so many do all over this world in so many fields.

“Each day a Penn State alum helps to save a life, make it better, makes a breakthrough in medicine or meteorology, makes someone happy, donates money to charity and so much more. Let’s get on with education and doing good things.”

Barbara Doran, who finished fourth in the election for three alumni seats on the board and was endorsed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said she’s “disappointed that the NCAA relied solely on the Freeh report, which despite its important contributions and recommendations, did not have access to vital testimony of most of the leaders under scrutiny, and made assumptions as to intent and motive not factually supported.

“This is not about the football program per se but about a broader institutional mindset that was seriously deficient in transparency and accountability; the NCAA is overreaching here.

“The NCAA penalties are extremely harsh and unnecessarily punitive given the determined commitment to radical change that Penn State has clearly already made, but it is done.

“Penn State must now focus on the future and take the necessary steps to restore the trust and confidence of the Penn State community and the public at-large.”

Kyle MacWade, a 2009 graduate, said he feels “that the punishments levied on the program itself and Paterno’s legacy are fair and deserved, but the penalties on the current players seem unjust and unnecessary.”

In particular, he said he doesn’t see any positives from the loss of scholarships that are part of the NCAA penalties.

Jon Pelter, a 2011 graduate, said he’s proud of Penn State and the work of its students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“The NCAA is hurting student-athletes at Penn State by doing this. People come to PSU because of the amazing academics, not just good sports...

“We can still have winning seasons, white outs, and support this team. Sadly, none of the people actually involved in the alleged cover-up were punished today.”

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy