2014 Starts Fast But There's More To Come
Although 2014 is just getting started a lot has already happened in Happy Valley.
For the second time in two years the university is looking for a head football coach.
Just over the horizon looms a decision on a new university president as well as potentially a new athletic director.
Also this week a Judge ruled that major portions of a lawsuit against the NCAA may go forward — a significant development. How it proceeds remains to be seen but it does pave the way for the truth to continue down the path of due process.
As far as the coaching search goes, the coach who just left had his reasons -- the truth really only known to him. No one here should harbor any ill will toward him nor should they be under any delusion that there was ever a real bond. It was simply business and for better or for worse that is the era the university administration is facing.
That is not what this community is used to, so for many, it has been a shock to the system.
But stay tuned, there is more ahead. Another board of trustees election is looming in 2014 as is an election for the governor of our commonwealth. The results of those two elections will have real consequences on the board's balance of power and will dramatically shape the future direction of Penn State.
The gubernatorial election promises many visits by the candidates to this area. Every candidate running against the incumbent governor knows the anger generated by what happened to Penn State is an issue. They will all look to tap into that vein of discontent as they visit this community and the communities nearby that have been impacted by the fallout.
However, we should not turn the page on 2013 without a salute to Penn State Women's Volleyball for a sixth national championship. They are now tied for the most NCAA women's volleyball titles for any school. Russ Rose also earned a fifth national coach of The year award as voted on by his peer coaches. That is the highest praise a coach can get, to be recognized by your peer group as the coach of the year.
The coaches have great respect for Russ as he's built a program of enduring excellence. That program is the envy of schools across the nation when they see how Penn State's women's volleyball student-athletes compete on the court and more importantly in the classroom.
Never one to draw attention to himself Russ would be the first to point out excellence in academics and athletics has been the culture of Penn State for well over a century. It is continued by a truly impressive roster of coaches assembled on this campus predominantly by former Athletic Director Tim Curley.
In the Big Ten era Penn State has led the conference; producing 24 national championship teams -- easily outpacing all other Big Ten Schools. It has done so with young men and women who are truly student-athletes. The wrestling team seems poised to make it twenty-five this semester.
In 2014 the road to the wrestling national title runs once again through Penn State and Coach Cael Sanderson. At Penn State both wrestling and women's volleyball have been THE dominant programs in their sports for the past several years — and I am sure it looks likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
This weekend the students will return to campus. They will find a place that remains as constant in some ways as it is ever-changing in others. The people who come and go at this university are but threads that in the perspective of time are woven into the glorious Penn State tapestry.
Some threads are longer than others, some shine more brilliantly than others; a few may even dull the fabric's radiance.
But across the changes, all who love this place hope that the bedrock values that we have always held dear will remain the loom upon which we weave a bigger and bigger future on a campus we will always call home.
No spoken untruths about our university can dull her memory in our hearts. We know who we have always been, who we are and who we will always be. As you move further and further into 2014 understand that the challenges ahead for our community will be decided in how we choose to represent our community and our university to the world.
No matter the decisions made by others, ultimately Penn Staters and the people of this community will be the people who carry the day. Individuals will come and go, but the collective will of our community carries us across the years.