Area residents share opinions on what should happen to Penn State football program

July 16, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |

HAGERSTOWN — Hagerstown resident Jeff Mastin, 42, had strong opinions about what should happen to Penn State’s football program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“Get rid of the program,” he said. “Child safety is far more important than any football program.”

NCAA sanctions for the program have been a topic of discussion as a result of the scandal and the alleged coverup. Mastin said the program should be completely shut down despite the fact that its players could be hurt by the move.

“That’s unfortunate, but it’s a small price to pay compared to what happened,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, football there was more important than kids who may never be right in the head again.”

Dean Bookheimer of Chambersburg, Pa., said the football program should not be punished because everybody involved in the scandal has been punished.

“They’ve already fired all the top management and leadership at Penn State,” he said. “The students nor the team had any involvement in this terrible scandal.”

Bookheimer, 69, said the scandal should not be compared to others in college football because it did not involve paying players.

“There was absolutely no player involvement here,” he said. “Nobody’s benefited financially from this. It’s just a terrible thing that should’ve been taken care of years ago.”

Gary Austin, 60, of Hagerstown said he doesn’t think the program should be punished.

“I think that would be a real detriment to the students who are there on scholarship, and it would be a real problem for some of them if the program were to be faulted for something that was clearly an administrative problem,” he said. “Penn State has a terrific reputation of graduating their scholar athletes and extremely high standards academically.”

Matt Brockway of Hagerstown said some form of punishment should be given to Penn State’s football program.

“From the top down, they knew what was going on,” he said. “I’d suspend the program from bowl games for a number of years, and the scholarships should be affected.”

Brockway, 24, said athletes on the team should be allowed to transfer to other schools continue their eligibility. He said he does not support the “death penalty” for the program, which would shut it down for a period of time. Southern Methodist University in 1987 remains the only college football program to have received that penalty.

“I think what happened to SMU probably wasn’t very fair and they never recovered, so I think it’s a little extreme,” he said. “The new coaches shouldn’t receive any punishment because they had nothing to do with it.”

Hagerstown resident Brett Wilson, 45, of the State’s Attorney’s Office, said he deals with cases pertaining to sex offenders, but he does not support any punishment for the football program.

“I don’t know if it would have any benefit,” he said. “It may cause collateral victims.”

Wilson said it would not punish anybody involved.

“Everybody who was involved has either left or was fired,” he said. “Fine the university and terminate anyone who had a part of that.”

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