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Reactions to the Penn State scandal

NCAA President Mark Emmert says the body will investigate whether bylaws were violated but emphasizes, 'This is a criminal matter…. Our rules were not written for this.'

November 10, 2011|Times staff reports
  • Longtime USC Coach John Robinson on the Joe Paterno firing at Penn State: 'I think they had to take action and they couldn?t give anybody the benefit of the doubt.'
Longtime USC Coach John Robinson on the Joe Paterno firing at Penn State:… (Stephen Dunn / Allsport )

The scandal at Penn State involving allegations of sexual abuse against children by Jerry Sandusky, a longtime football assistant, has led to criminal charges against two school officials, the ouster of university president Graham Spanier and the firing of iconic football coach Joe Paterno. A sampling of the reaction Thursday from across the nation:

MARK EMMERT, NCAA president

On NCAA involvement

"First, of course, this is a criminal matter. Criminal justice officials in Pennsylvania, and maybe the feds, are involved. We will monitor that and, as the facts become established, we will conduct our own inquiry to see whether there was a violation of our bylaws and what role we might play in that.

"It's a very odd moment. Our rules were not written for this. But it is our obligation to see what role we should play."

Could Penn State be sanctioned for lack of institutional control?

"That will be one of the things we look at once the facts are established. At this stage, these are just allegations. We don't know what the established facts will be.

"We'll look at our bylaws and determine what, if any, have been violated. Our rules were written to govern athletics, not for dealing with this kind of a shocking matter."

On the prospect of new NCAA legislation

"Potentially, yes. But I don't want to speculate too much.

"This is something that goes far beyond football, far beyond athletics. At the end of the day this is allegedly about someone taking a position of authority and trust and using it to assault children. Few things are more disgusting than that."

TOM HANSEN, retired Pac-10 commissioner

On Penn State's actions

"Universities have a tendency to want to keep these things within the campus and avoid bad publicity. It seems like that might have been an element here. … I know Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Graham Spanier. They're good people. For them not to pursue something that is reprehensible is inexplicable to me."

On Joe Paterno's culpability

"I think it's inexplicable that he simply reported it to [athletic director] Curley and then stepped back and did nothing further.... For him to remain silent with what he knew is very difficult to understand."

On whether the NCAA or BCS should become involved

"No. This is an institutional matter. No NCAA rules were violated. Whatever additional punitive steps that are taken should come from regents and prosecutors."

On Saturday's football game against Nebraska

"I can only imagine the players on that team being in the throes of so many different emotions. It will be very difficult to focus on football on Saturday."

JOHN GAGLIARDI, college football's winningest coach at Division III St. John's (Minn.)

On Paterno, who is a month younger and 74 college victories behind Gagliardi

"It used to be every time Paterno did something good, my name would be mentioned. I guess that's over."

On the allegations of sexual abuse facing former Penn State football assistant Jerry Sandusky

"He's the culprit — the focus should be on him and the kids he tortured. I can't believe guys like that exist. My God, how could a guy who's married, has kids, grandkids. … I don't know. Who knows?"

On Penn State firing Paterno

"To me, he did what he was supposed to do — he reported it to his superiors — but I don't know what the law is.

"I feel really bad because two of the guys I admire so much, Joe Paterno and [former Ohio State coach] Jim Tressel, great coaches who led exemplary lives, have stumbled. I don't know what happened."

On what he would say to Penn State players before Saturday's game

"Try to win it for Joe. I think that's great motivation."

JOHN ROBINSON, former coach at USC, Nevada Las Vegas and with the Los Angeles Rams

On these events being an indictment of big-time college athletics

"Every institution or culture in our society is vulnerable to these types of things. Somebody is really missing the boat if they don't see that it could happen in their own organization, whether it's the L.A. Times or a school system or a religious order. Every culture in our society is vulnerable. … You just have to open your eyes. It's not football, it's human beings."

On Penn State's handling of the situation

"I think they're doing the right things. Somebody sat down and said, 'Hey, wait a minute. The victims and the school are the places we have to focus our attention. Joe and the other guys come after that.' I think they had to take action and they couldn't give anybody the benefit of the doubt."

On the large amount of focus on Paterno

"If it blurs or obscures the crimes that were committed then it's too much."

On what he would say Penn State players before Saturday's game

"I'm sure in some respects for the team it will be that there's a sense of relief when they play. I'm not sure anybody knows what to do or how to go about it."

MALCOLM MORAN, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State

General reaction to the allegations and events

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