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Patty Kleban: Events of Past Week Filled With Irony

by on July 30, 2012 6:08 AM

As I sat down to write my column for this week, I looked for something profound, something that hasn’t already been said in response to all of the events of last week. The statue. The sanctions. The continued press coverage. I kept coming back to the word unexpected.

Last week we saw several situations in which the outcomes didn’t fit the expectations for the given events. For the most part, much of what happened last week just didn’t make sense.

Some people call it hypocrisy. Others call it irony.

Just a few weeks ago, we heard that the NCAA was going to wait to hear the results from the judicial system before determining sanctions. Last week, the NCAA rushed to outline sanctions without waiting to hear the results from the court trials and/or any related, unbiased investigations.

Irony? A member of the Freeh report team says the Freeh report shouldn’t have been used by the NCAA.

Mark Emmert and the NCAA outline sanctions for Penn State. Those sanctions seem to penalize those who have done the least – or who have done nothing at all. In those sanctions, we hear that the goal is to reprioritize academics. However as the list of punishments were announced, the first sanction out of his mouth is a whopping $60 million monetary fine. It’s ironic that his directive to establish an integrity compliance program is at the bottom of the list.

So, a man who reportedly makes over $1 million, overseeing the multi-billion dollar business that is college sports is telling Penn State that we have our priorities wrong? A university that is annually ranked among the top in research, employer recruiting, education and services to the military and, again this year, first in student-athlete graduation rate and who hasn’t had a national champion football team since 1986 is told that we need to prioritize.

Irony.

In the 14 years since 1998, Penn State had 112 wins but also awarded close to 100,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees. If they vacate wins does that also mean it vacates losses? The NCAA makes a decision to take away those wins, sounding more like a bunch of kids on a playground than the regulating body for collegiate sports.

In the hours (and maybe minutes) after announcing sanctions against Penn State – an athletic program that has never had a single NCAA violation – coaches and recruiters from institutions all over the country, many of which have faced considerable issues complying with NCAA regulations, are permitted if not encouraged to approach and recruit the Penn State players.

The only man who actually did acknowledge that he wished he had done more is vilified in the press and in the public and yet the man who actually hurt those boys sits in a jail cell and has yet to utter a word of apology.

Irony? Hypocrisy? Or do the decisions in this case just continue to be the results of group hysteria and our collective need to make sure someone pays for a multi-system breakdown?

I don’t think wearing a shirt that says “We are ... pissed off” is going to do much to further the healing.

Tuesday morning, starting between 6 and 6:30, fans and other supporters of Penn State football are planning to gather in the parking lot of Holuba Hall to cheer on the Nittany Lions as they arrive for morning workouts. This impromptu pep rally, which is being called "Rise and Rally," is intended to let the community show the Penn State players, especially those who are being recruited by other schools, that the Nittany Nation is behind them. Their legacy as “the players who stayed” will be forever a part of Penn State history.

The brainchild of Keith “Goon” Conlin, local sports commentator and former Penn State football player, "Rise and Rally" is being co-sponsored by Nittany Bank and Old State Clothing Company. Conlin, the voice of The Goon Show with Sweeney at www.goonshowpsu.com, has been talking to fans and coaches about what the community could do to show support for the team.

The general feeling is that these young men, under threat of calls and contacts from the other NCAA teams, need fan support sooner rather than later. Dave Richards, CEO of Nittany Bank and others have jumped on board to pull together the rally and Nittany Bank is providing free coffee and donuts. The Blue Band has been asked to attend as well.

The public is urged to observe parking regulations and to park in open and visitor lots and parking garages on campus and in downtown State College. The event will be live broadcast at www.goonshowpsu.edu.

Coach Bill O’Brien has yet to coach a game in Beaver Stadium but his decisions and leadership this week feel decidedly like Penn State tradition.

In November, just days after the story and the charges became public, we watched young men in football uniforms walk hand in hand into a stadium of 108,000 people and demonstrate leadership in moving us forward.

Last week, just days after the sanctions became public, we watched young men who will wear football uniforms stand together and demonstrate leadership in moving us forward.

Irony.

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Patty Kleban is an instructor at Penn State, mother of three and a community volunteer. She is a Penn State Alumna. Readers of State College Magazine voted her Best Writer of 2010 and 2012. She and her family live in Patton Township. Her views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State.
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