Positing The Possibility that There IS An Institutional Control Problem (of some nature) at PSU. Talking Points.

Preface: This is meant to be helpful. I am not trying to be argumentative; rather I am offering you a view of how I am seeing some of this. Also, I am not talking about football; if I stray over and mention football, ignore that. This is about PSU as an organization, not PSU as football. End Preface.

I am going to stop using the words "institutional control" because those words have specific meaning within the context of NCAA sanctions and that is causing confusion. Instead, I am going to use the words "organizational management."

From this outsider's perspective, I am hereby positing the possibility that PSU has a major organizational management problem at the top. I would phrase it generally as: "no one seems to be in charge." I would phrase it more specifically as: "the BoT is either unable or unwilling to act."

Forget 1998, 2002, etc.

Let's focus on 2011..

Talking Point #1:

About a year ago, Coach Paterno, Schultz, Curley and McQueary were summoned to and then gave testimony to the Grand Jury concerning the allegations against Sandusky.

So, it is a 100% unarguable fact --- a "legal fact" if you will --- that, one year ago in 2010, PSU knew that Sandusky was a possible child molester. (Please don't argue this point; I guarantee you that PSU's General Counsel was "cc-ed" on the subpoenas that were sent to PSU employees involving allegations against a former PSU employee where six of the eight victims alleged acts of molestation occurring on PSU property. The GC then told Spanier who should have told the BoT.)

After learning that Sandusky was a possible child rapist, PSU did nothing.

Sandusky remained a Professor Emeritus, continued to have access to PSU facilities in general and to the football shower rooms in particular, continued to have an office on campus, continued to have parking privileges, a PSU email account, etc. It is also reported that Sandusky, at minimum, held himself out as a representative of PSU to potential football recruits in the spring of 2011.

Then, on March 31, 2011, the local paper/website, published five articles about the investigation mentioning Paterno, Curley and Schultz as persons who testified before the grand jury.

Note that the author of the articles, Sarah Ganim, says she first heard the story in 2009. But, we are going to keep our focus on 2011.

Note also that the March 31st article caused a bit of a "stir" for at least a week or so. See

Anyway, after March 31, 2011, after learning (really-for-sure-no-question-about-knowing-it) that Sandusky was a possible child rapist, PSU still did nothing.

On November 4, 2011, Sandusky is indicted. PSU still did nothing.

On November 6, 2011 finally, Sandusky is banned from the PSU campus. (btw, has he been stripped of his status as a Professor Emeritus? Does he still have an office?)

Under no circumstances should PSU, at an organizational level, have allowed any of that to have happened. When a player is arrested for DUI, he is dismissed from the team until the legal process is completed.

The fact that Sandusky was not metaphorically "dismissed from the team" until November 6th means that there was a failure of organizational management at PSU. [The B1G will want this corrected.]

Talking Point #2:

This catastrophic scandal was kept hidden from the BoT. [I speculate that this is the #1 concern of the B1G.]

Apparently, only a few of the 32 members of the BoT were given a "heads up" prior to November 4th.

This suggests a BoT that has little or no control over its own Administration.

(Alternatively, each member of the BoT WAS told or can be said to have "constructive knowledge" of the scandal because they should have read the articles back in March. However, this is actually a worse problem for PSU. See ("Yet Joyner said, to his knowledge, the board was never informed of multiple allegations of sexual abuse by former football coach Jerry Sandusky until news of a criminal investigation broke in March.")

Now let's talk Curley and Schultz:

I do not know, but I simply cannot believe that Spanier was surprised by the perjury indictments against Curley and Schultz. I just think someone from the AG's office would have given a bit of warning. Assuming yes, Spanier should have had them gone weeks before and the BoT should have been informed.

But, put that aside: On November 4, 2011, Curley and Schultz were indicted for perjury before a Grand Jury that was investigating allegations of child rape. They should have been either fired or put on administrative leave immediately.

However, PSU (Spanier) initially proclaimed Curely and Schultz to be innocent and asserted "unconditional support" for them. (And made a point of announcing that PSU would be paying their legal fees). This was beyond stupid from an organizational standpoint.

On November 5 and 6, PSU (Spanier) felt no need to call a special meeting of the BoT. [Who's in charge of whom, here?]

Under pressure from a faction of the BoT, a special meeting was held on November 6 in the evening and, under pressure from the BoT, Schultz retired and Curley was put on administrative leave. However, Spanier announced it to the media as voluntary. Some portion of the BoT was reported to have been upset that Spanier made it sound voluntary.

This all paints a picture of a BoT that could not control its principal employee. The media enhanced that impression by reporting what seemed like an all-day "standoff" between Spanier and the BoT on Wednesday, November 10th. (In addition, until it actually fired him, it appeared that the BoT had no control over Coach Paterno either.)

Under no circumstances should PSU, at an organizational level, have allowed any of this to have happened. Giant organizational management problem. [The B1G will want all of this corrected.]

Talking Point #3:

PSU had time to prepare a proper media/public relations response, but failed to do so.

Among other things, a properly functioning organization informs everyone in positions of power that a scandal of this magnitude is coming.

More importantly, a properly functioning organization takes preventative steps (like banning Sandusky from campus, etc.) so that the media/public relations response will have substance.

Then, a properly functioning organization prepares in advance for the statements to be issued to the public/media.

As discussed above, Spanier could not have handled this worse.

Under no circumstances should PSU, at an organizational level, have failed to plan in advance for the media/public response. Giant organizational management problem.

Talking Point #4:

The BoT did not act decisively and still is not acting decisively either because it is unable or unwilling. [I speculate this is the #2 concern of the B1G.]

On Sunday, November 6, they allowed Schultz to resign and agreed to let Curley go on administrative leave. That strongly suggests lack of will and lack of decisiveness. Contrast: Syracuse's Chancellor who simply fired Bernie Fine after the tape was made public.

On Wednesday, November 9, they allowed Spanier go on administrative leave/retire rather than fire him.

On November 10th, they let Bradley say that McQueary would be coaching at the Nebraska game only to have McQueary put on administrative leave the next day. and

On November 9th, Erickson was appointed as interim President with the BoT promising a "full national search" to find a new President for PSU. On November 17th, the "national search" was abandoned and Erickson's appointment was made permanent.

The PSU BoT is either unable or unwilling to take decisive action.

This is a giant organizational management problem, although it may be understandable. From all accounts, the BoT was a "rubber stamp" for Spanier and is, therefore, not trained/accustomed to acting decisively. Put it another way, the BoT may not be populated with decisive people. Decisive people are not generally appointed to Boards that are supposed to meekly rubber stamp what the President wants.

Now that Spanier is gone, there is a power vacuum. The BoT is either not able or unwilling to fill the vacuum and act as decisively as needed.

Whatever the reasons, as an organization, PSU seems to be floundering about.

Talking Point #5:

The same people are still in charge. [I speculate this is the #3 concern of the B1G.]

New AD Joyner has been on the BoT since 2000.

New President Erickson has been part of the PSU administration since 1995.

No planned changes for the BoT have been announced or suggested.

The BoT is unwilling or unable to bring in "fresh blood." This is a giant organizational management problem.


Succinctly, this looks like Spanier was pretty much firmly in control without much involvement from the BoT, that Spanier bungled this very badly, and that, now, no one is in charge.

[The B1G cannot let PSU spin out of control and flounder like this. Thus, yesterday's COP/C Statement.]

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