Area sports personnel, residents weigh in on Penn State sanctions

July 23, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Swift Dickison
Swift Dickison

As the NCAA imposed sanctions against Penn State, some area residents, including sports personnel, agreed the football powerhouse should have been penalized for the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the school, but they did not all agree on how severe that punishment should have been.

“It’s a terrible human tragedy that an adult would take advantage of young people,” Hagerstown Community College Athletic Director Bo Myers said Monday. “Penn State had about 1,000 opportunities to not let this continue, and the individuals involved chose not to do the right thing.”

The sanctions stem from the case of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

Myers said he supported some level of sanctions against Penn State, but said he thought the university should have taken its own action and handed out penalties.

“If I were Penn State, I might give up football for a while,” he said. “At upper levels of NCAA, we’ve got it reversed. Coaches making much more than college presidents, professors and Nobel prize winners is ridiculous.”

Included among the penalties the NCAA handed out to Penn State were a four-year postseason bowl ban, a $60 million fine, a reduction of scholarships from 25 to 15 over four years and erasure of the team’s 111 wins since 1998.

Frostburg State University football coach Tom Rogish talked about the penalties the NCAA levied against Penn State.

“It’s penalizing people who were not involved in the incident,” he said. “But when they talk about institutional control, that’s what they got busted on. Every program has to look at their institutional control.”

Rogish said he spent time at summer camps with Joe Paterno and Sandusky in the 1970s and 1980s, and that he was shocked when he learned of the abuse.

“I always felt everything there was done first class,” he said. “I was very disappointed about this. It makes you wonder about mankind.”

Myers said he believed it would have been better for the school to handle the sexual abuse allegations when they were first reported instead of covering up the information.

“If there’s something unethical, I’d rather cut it off at that point so the cancer goes away,” he said. “I expect my coaches to be adults and make wise choices.”

Hagerstown resident Joe Kay, 46, said although he supported the bowl ban, scholarship reductions and fine for the school, he did not support the wins being taken from the team.

“If they won the game, they won the game,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to take away team success that already happened. That’s not right.”

Mike Fletchinger, 68, of Hagerstown, said he thinks all of the sanctions are valid, including vacating the wins.

“Now they can get some healing and move on,” he said. “A lot of our institutions are football-oriented rather than education-oriented, so hopefully this will do something to correct that in the future.”

Paterno’s statue was removed from its spot outside Beaver Stadium on Sunday.

William Fridge, 51, of Hagerstown, said he supported the removal of the statue and the penalties against Penn State, particularly the fine.

“The money should go to the victims,” he said. “Joe Paterno was bigger than life, and if he had handled this like he was supposed to, it wouldn’t have gotten that far.”

The $60 million fine is equal to one year of revenue for the football program, according to reports, and it cannot come at the expense of other nonrevenue sports or student-athlete scholarships.

Swift Dickison, 58, of Hagerstown, said he supported all of the penalties.

“The penalties may not be fully deserved, but it was a good idea to do something dramatic to set an example,” he said. “It seems like it’s a good ruling.”

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