THON ON, Penn State. The biggest Penn State news of the past week obviously came from the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. As Dan wrote on Sunday afternoon, the 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting, entirely student-run marathon raised $12,374,034.46 in support of the Four Diamonds Fund. Most remarkable statistic? Penn State students have now raised over $100 million total for the Fund since they partnered in 1977.
Cari's got you covered with a few dozen photos from inside the event. Fred Conrad, a photojournalism blogger at the New York Times, throws his hat in the ring and attempts to explain what he witnessed this weekend.
With passion and excitement, they told me about Thon - the world's largest student-run charity, which is like a dance-a-thon, pep rally, rock concert and tent revival all in one. For 41 years, the students at Penn State - a university known more for its troubles than its triumphs in recent years - have raised tens of millions for pediatric cancer research and family care. They have raised so much - more than $101 million - that they have even financed a wing at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
I knew I had to go cover it this year.
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The fact is, Thon probably has more to do with Penn State students than football does. They are not looking to make someone an all-star; they are doing charitable work. And it wasn't just one student, it was thousands doing that.
The last year was a rough one for Penn State, with the child sexual abuse scandal that took down the football coach, Joe Paterno, and led to the conviction of his former assistant Jerry Sandusky. Granted, Thon had been raising money and doing good works long before any of that came to light. But it may be more important now because students need to be reassured that they were good people who do good things.
Scouting Pros. The NFL Scouting Combine started this week, which means that several Penn State graduates are up for evaluations. Matt Stankiewitch told media members covering the event that Head Coach Bill O'Brien made him stronger . . .
"Bill O'Brien is the biggest thing that made me stronger," he said. "Just learning that offense, knowing how to use different terminology, and picking up different offenses so quickly. This was my last year, I had to pick up the Patriots offense very quickly. That's how it's going to be when I have a chance to play in the NFL."
Stankiewitch said he's interviewed with the Denver Broncos and met with several other teams during the course of the East-West Shrine Game and through Thursday's session. One team that's shown interest in him is the Green Bay Packers. The Packers could use a center after the versatile Evan Dietrich-Smith took over the position in Week 16, making way for Jeff Saturday's retirement.
And Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman had some nice things to say about everyone's favorite linebacker, Michael Mauti . . .
But one thing the General Manager wasn't shy about was the impact of a hand-written note from Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti.
"He's truly an incredible guy. Talk about someone who has faced so much adversity and he's been able to rebound from it," Roseman said. "He just has an incredible heart and incredible passion. For a player like that you just wish him all the best."
In other football news . . . The Penn State-Syracuse game on August 31st at MetLife Stadium is the official start of the college football season . . . Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg breaks down the next installment of the Great Quarterback Debate.
Everyone's Favorite Topic. Penn State moved to dismiss the whistle-blower case brought by former receivers coach Mike McQueary. University attorney Nancy Conrad called the suit "devoid of facts" that state a claim.
McQueary was a fixed-term employee whose contract was not renewed when it expired June 30, 2012, but Conrad wrote in the court papers that McQueary's claims are not enough to establish a whistle-blower claim or a wrongful discharge claim. Further, she said, wrongful discharge claims do not extend to contracted employees.
Conrad said the words in Spanier's statement of support for Curley and Schultz were not defamatory or malicious and the statement does not even mention McQueary. Further, she argued, the context of the statement would not make it defamatory either.
"Mere embarrassment or annoyance is not enough," Conrad wrote.
McQueary's attorneys have until March 8th to respond. Oral argument will take place on March 18th.
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