The planned 50th Anniversary Celebration of Joe Paterno's first game as a coach has brought forth so-called victim advocates, sportswriters, news reporters, and other keyboard blowhards out of the woodwork to demean Penn State University (PSU) as a "cult" of football and/or idol worshippers who have their priorities out of order. In addition, some continue to blame Paterno for turning a blind eye to the rape of a child.
While most of these writers haven't a clue about the facts of the case, they didn't come up with these accusations on their own.
These falsities were provided to them courtesy of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (OAG), its media lapdog, the Harrisburg Patriot News, and Louis Freeh.
But those who are truly culpable for the latest public relations (PR) nightmare were former members of the PSU Board of Trustees, including former Governor Tom Corbett. It was those individuals who allowed the first OAG's grand jury presentment and then the Freeh Report to do unnecessary damage to the University's reputation.
To be clear, trustees John Surma and former Governor Tom Corbett were the primary culprits behind the PR disaster that occurred in late 2011.
|Surma and Corbett engineered the Nov 2011 PSU PR Disaster|
Rather than following the lead of former PSU President Graham Spanier, and defending PSU against the false charges levied by the OAG, Surma silenced Spanier. He then let the media continue run with the false narrative of Paterno being told of a rape and that PSU officials covered it up to protect the reputation of the University.
Surma and Corbett then cemented the idea that Paterno and Spanier were complicit in the cover-up by engineering their removals without even putting the matter to a vote. When Surma was asked about the reasons behind the removal of Paterno, he could provide no specific answers because, according to his own words, the BOT did not yet know the facts.
Enter Louis Freeh.
In the aftermath of the blowback from alumni over the rash removals of Paterno and Spanier, Surma tapped former trustee Kenneth Frazier, who according to his report was known as a cover-up artist, to go about selecting a firm to conduct an independent investigation into the Sandusky matter.
Emails obtained by PSU alumnus Ryan Bagwell revealed that Corbett had plenty to of input into the decision. In fact, Corbett later boasted that he identified and recommended Freeh for the job.
PSU's PR disaster #2 began with the release of the Freeh Report in a nationally televised press conference. Freeh's accusations were treated as facts and he levied a guilty verdict against PSU.
His most damning statement,was that PSU should have a culture that "protects children and not the adults who abuse them." Those who have read the Freeh Report know that there was no evidence in his report to support the statement.
As many Penn Staters say, there are two mutually exclusive groups when it comes to the Freeh Report.
Those who have read it.
And those who continue to believe it.
Which points to the second group of individuals responsible for the latest PR nightmare: former trustees Kenneth Frazier and Karen Peetz, and former President Rodney Erickson.
|Peetz, Erickson, and Frazier engineered July 2012 PR disaster|
To add insult to injury on July 12, 2012, these individuals publicly praised the Freeh Report and its recommendations in a televised press conference. This action was taken without a thorough review of the Freeh Report and, again, without a vote of the BOT.
Later that month, Erickson and others on the inner circle continued their destruction of PSU by collaborating with the NCAA to railroad Paterno, Spanier, and PSU football.
The emails and other evidence from the Corman lawsuit revealed that this group attempted to garner positive PR for itself and win favor with PSU alumni by coming up with the phony story that its actions since the hiring of Freeh convinced the NCAA to not give a 4-year death penalty to the football program.
|The BOT's self-serving input to the NCAA press release|
Ironically, these sorry excuses for human beings who got behind the false narrative that the PSU culture valued football over the welfare of children obviously believed what they were shoveling.
They believed that the alumni would praise them for saving football and, according to Karen Peetz, by 2014 the whole scandal would be a distant memory.
It's almost 2017 and the PR nightmares aren't going to stop until the University does what is should have done in November 2011 and July 2012.
It must set the record straight.
This isn't about a statue.
This isn't about football.
It's about the reputation of Penn State University.