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Alumni Letter Concerning the Penn State Sandusky Scandal: To A Broken University

Updated on March 28, 2014

To A Broken Community

Students, fans, families, athletes, faculty and Administration we have all been effected by the news of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous and unheard of crimes, as well as the saddening and deeply upsetting dismissal of our deserved hall-of-fame coach. I have been wrestling with these developments since the scandal first broke on ESPN, becoming greatly confused and conflicted over the continued craziness. With the sudden death of Coach Paterno, my feelings have become even more chaotic. How could the University I have so much pride for, the administration I have entrusted with my life and the man who has been one of my few role models, fail so terribly in keeping the victims of Sandusky safe, and in turn upholding the reputation of the school I have put so much of my love and pride into? I’ve wrestled over whether my opinion of the institution should be ruined and if Joe Paterno’s storied career and life should simply become a forgotten, if not, blemished memory in the back of my mind.

But I cannot accept either of those options. How can the University that has made so many strides in science, technology, the arts and humanitarianism, in just a matter of three days, become nothing but a corrupt and misguided factory for scum like Sandusky? How can Coach go from spouting out his mantra ‘Success with Honor’ and pouring millions of dollars into the school and community simply be relegated to the status of villain? It is preposterous to believe that either of these two ideas is true. Penn State, I implore you – students, fans, and faculty – calm down, disperse from the streets and go home. You will see in the morning the sky is still blue and white and your administration and faculty will still be there to provide the education that you pay for and deserve. Penn State Athletics will fight on and make us all proud of their efforts. Let this devastating tragedy work itself out, give due process a chance to run its course. Honor our fallen coach with respect and academic diligence.

To a Broken Administration and Media

To the Board of Trustees and the media coverage that has hung like a sickness over the University since the scandal became public. I am deeply disappointed with your handling of the issues at hand. Media, your role is to report the facts to the viewers. In a hell bent bid for ratings, you let sensationalism bend the allegations against Sandusky into a witch hunt against Joe Paterno simply because of his national relevance and because the headline was understandably more appealing to a national audience. To even suggest that the crimes committed by the former Penn State defensive coordinator are even partially equivalent to Joe Paterno’s admitted lack of action is just a disgusting and terrible exaggeration and an injustice to the man that helped put this University on the map.

Likewise, respected Board members please understand that I get why you believed relieving Joe was your best course of action. The publicity and pariah that Joe’s presence brought the campus could have proved to hurt the University in the upcoming months, but this does not lessen your failure to implement a proper and more subtle exit strategy. Joe has given many of you your jobs; he has pumped money into the very programs that have given you a good product to sell to students. The least you could have done is try and protect his reputation, which is in turn congruent with the University’s image. His dismissal should have been done in person, and the community deserved a proper explanation for why you came to your decision. “It was for the best interest of the University” is a blatant PR move and holds no real meaning to the general public. You should have let the man at least coach his last game so the fans could give their proper good byes, the student athletes could have had their coach to rally to, and he could be allowed to dictate the image of how he will leave the program. Now, in the wake of his passing, we as kids who looked up to the man are left with the image of a Macbeth rather than the misguided but virtuous Hamlet. Show some respect for a family who is assuredly devastated by having to completely abandon the program and then watch their father, husband and grandfather wither away.

Joe Paterno, legendary Coach of the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions.
Joe Paterno, legendary Coach of the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions. | Source

To A Broken Legacy

I mean, Joe, we all appreciate what you have done for the school and community; the principles of pride and honor you have instilled in each and every one of us. Coach were are a role model for many and will continue to be for others in our community for years to come; you’ve led a life of class and responsibility and died upholding those very traits. But yes, you must be held accountable for what you did not do when the opportunity presented itself to you. Because of this, your announcement to step down wasn’t a sad moment for me but proof of your selflessness. That you would give up your job in order to uphold the image of this great school. And so, like you asked of us, I will go to bed, get some rest, study, and be ready for classes tomorrow, while none of us are bigger than the issues at hand and the poor victims of this sex scandal, Penn State is bigger than the stain these crimes have threatened to leave. Penn State will go on to produce great men, woman, athletes, and advancements in order to help this world.

Riot that erupted moments after PSU Board of Trustees announced Joe Paterno's firing.
Riot that erupted moments after PSU Board of Trustees announced Joe Paterno's firing. | Source

To A Broken University

So students, get off those streets, stop destroying the very town that was the reason that Joe Paterno stayed here for 60 some years. Support Coach by looking to his family, God knows they need it most now. Grieve and pray for those poor children and their families. Let justice reach whoever deserves it, and hope that some piece of mind can be provided to the victims, their families and this devastated and betrayed University. But never give up on this school. Be proud as students; be proud as fans; be proud as faculty; and be proud as alumni. Because we are Penn State, and we are better than what the country has seen of us throughout this hectic ordeal, and we will prove it.

For the Glory,

Eric Pelka

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    • Nicholas Coble profile image

      Nicholas Coble 

      6 years ago

      As for Sandusky. I live in America: innocent until proven guilty.

    • Eazy_E profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Pelka 

      6 years ago from State College, Pennsylvania

      We will never know what will suffice to provide these victims with solace, but I think the Universities support for prevention initiatives and such is a good start as well.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Well done, and thought out. I, while not associated with the school in any way, found myself wondering much of the same sentiments. Joe Pa, how could you harbor this beast; this excrement of society? We will never know. I am truly heartbroken for all of those who believed in him; this was something that never should have happened. But, the school is bigger than any one person, and will survive. But the victims need something; I do not know what. For Sandusky to rot in some hell on Earth is the first step. But where to go from there?


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