Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Centre County residents voice concern for victims

The sanctions against Penn State’s football program are the least of concerns for local resident Vicki Homan.

She’s worried about the well-being of the young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky. She thinks they might be feeling undue guilt after the NCAA imposed punitive and unprecedented sanctions on Penn State on Monday, and the community reacted as though the football program is the victim.

“Is that going to make them feel worse? I think that it would,” said Homan, at her hair salon, Forever Red’s, in Centre Hall. “I don’t know.

“There’s a whole other side than just that football team.”

For the Centre Countians who don’t live or work in State College and in the shadow of Beaver Stadium, the scandal and the newly imposed sanctions are provoking questions and concerns. Their reactions show the sting of the scandal and that its implications reach far beyond State College, but they also underscore that what some called for is community healing.

Reba Mann, working at Miller’s Hoagies in Milesburg on Tuesday afternoon, said there was little, if any, talk among customers over the past two days about the sanctions and latest turmoil at Penn State.

Mann has her own connection to Penn State football — she has worked game-day concession stands outside Beaver Stadium for years, the last time being at the Blue-White scrimmage in April.

Like Homan, she’s not worried so much about the football as she is the victims, one of whom lives in Milesburg.

“I think it’s making it worse for them,” Mann said. “It’s going to make the victims feel like it’s their fault they’re being penalized.”

Co-worker Tessa Cramer, of Snow Shoe, agreed about the victims, but thinks taking the victories away from Penn State is wrong, because the players deserved the achievement, she said.

“You just can’t erase what happened,” she said.

In Philipsburg, resident Ryan Johnston said he thinks the $60 million fine is justified but doesn’t think taking away the victories is.

“It’s taking a lot from Penn State football culture and (Joe Paterno’s) legacy,” he said. “It’s the students suffering. I’m glad (the program) didn’t get the death penalty.”

Philipsburg resident Jim Vaughn had harsh words for the NCAA.

“The NCAA is a bunch of idiots, punishing kids who had nothing to do with anything, and the school and the area,” he said. “I don’t even understand it.”

Ben Maurer, another Philipsburg resident, was also troubled by the penalties.

“It’s punishing the kids instead of the guy who committed the crime,” Maurer said. “I think Paterno could have done more, but the focus should be Sandusky.”

Sandusky is locked up in the Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting his sentencing hearing. He was convicted last month of 45 counts of abuse, and on July 12, the Freeh report found that senior level administrators, including Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz concealed allegations.

Thomas Keiser, a 2011 Penn State graduate who lives in Benner Township, thinks all the pieces of the scandal are too complicated to judge together, including how to remember Paterno.

“People are not willing to separate all the issues here, and they end up conflating them,” he said. “We’re rushing to vilify a man based on the greatest mistake of his life.”

Keiser said he’s not a diehard football fan — he’s someone who’s tailgated twice outside Beaver Stadium and believes there’s a lot of emphasis on the football program.

“It’s a very tough balancing act that Old Main is trying to run here,” he said.

At Plumb’s Drug Store in downtown Bellefonte, employees Hayley Kelley and Courtney Wesley said they’re well past the saturation point of hearing or reading about the scandal.

“That’s all my Facebook news feed is about,” Kelly said.

Kelley said two women who planned to go see the statue site were in the drugstore earlier Tuesday and were talking about the sanctions and the scandal.

Wesley, a student at Bloomsburg University, is still a Penn State fan. But she’d prefer things to quiet down.

“I just feel like it’s being drug out and they just need to let everyone heal and move on from it,” she said.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT

CDT freelance writer Lori Falce contributed reporting from Philipsburg.