According to Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, a fierce divide remains among Penn Staters in part because “what many Penn Staters believe that the entirety of the Penn State community was accused of.”
The accusation is a matter of fact, not belief. In 2012, former President Rodney Erickson signed a legal document — the NCAA consent decree — stating Jerry Sandusky’s crimes were not stopped because “a reverence for Penn State football permeated every level of the university community.” The document also states “the culture exhibited at Penn State is an extraordinary affront to the values all members of the Association have pledged to uphold.”
These statements helped fuel a media lynch mob that portrayed Penn State students, employees and alumni as sick football worshipers.
Since Erickson’s departure, Penn State’s leadership has declined the opportunity to denounce the above indictment of the university’s culture. Worse, the board of trustees gave the accusations legitimacy by placing Erickson’s name on a campus building.
Imagine for a moment that you are an outsider: Why would Penn State convey such a high honor on someone who publicly endorsed false and damning statements about its culture? Naturally outsiders conclude that the myths about Penn State’s culture are true. These myths will persist until Barbour and other members of the university’s leadership refute them.
Dave Ketchen, Opelika, Ala.