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Penn State Hockey: Athletic Director Sandy Barbour Apologizes For '409' Sticker Tweet

by on January 20, 2015 6:00 AM

It's a story that just won't go away for Penn State. On Friday night the Nittany Lion men's hockey team opted to wear 409 stickers to recognize the recently unsanctioned football wins under former football coach Joe Paterno.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour later tweeted to one unhappy observer that the stickers were "inappropriate and insensitive." She took to the radio on Monday evening to make the situation a little clearer.

During a segment of State College WBLF's "Zone Coverage," show, she said, "First of all, I want to apologize for the tweet. This is far too important a subject to vet on a casual; or in social media. ... I'll use my own words. It was inappropriate and insensitive of me to do that from a tweet standpoint.

"But from the standpoint of my concern, and why I've had conversations with our coaches about this, is because this is a moment to celebrate, and I knew before I came to Penn State that 409 meant success with honor, that 409 means far more to this community and this university then wins.

"Having come from the outside," She added. "I know that's not necessarily what everyone else knows and thinks, and frankly, in my five months here, I have learned so much more about Penn State and what an incredible place it is. I want the rest of the world to see and feel the things I have seen, and I thought it was incredibly important in this moment that we pause to make sure we got it right."

The lines of communication seemed to have tangled as Penn State's hockey team added the 409 decals without approval from the athletic department. That's something Barbour has taken up with men's head coach Guy Gadowsky who faced his own media storm on Monday after being confronted with the issue during a radio interview.

"I have talked to Guy and the first thing I said to him was, 'Guy, my comments were never intended to denigrate your guys or you or your coaching staff,'" Barbour said. "I understand what they did. They celebrated, and I get that, but again, once I talked to him about pausing and what are kind of all the things that have to be considered here, he was totally, totally on board.

"I don't want him to beat up about this. He also got killed by the advocate's side of this, and I think just as we have to understand and be sensitive to the victim side, there also has to be some understanding of why we would celebrate."

As far as honoring Joe Paterno in the future, that time will come according to Barbour.

"It's very important that we are very deliberate and get that right," she said. "The most important reason is what he has meant to this university, and we have to get it right in a way that not only honors him, and celebrates him, and if we have the opportunity to educate others on who he was, I think that's a great thing."

With trials and court dates still yet to come and go, it's hard to imagine that Penn State will be doing anything official in the near future.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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