Skip to comments.Memos: Officials Focused On Image (Penn State Board of Trustees Respond to Child Rape Expose)
Posted on 01/05/2012 10:24:10 AM PST by Scoutmaster
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Penn State's board of trustees and president focused on repairing the school's tarnished image and braced for financial backlash in the immediate aftermath of the child sex-abuse scandal that erupted two months ago, going so far as to recommend reminding any outraged donors that they wouldn't get their money back, according to internal memos obtained by The Associated Press.
Four memos sent Nov. 14-18 and released to the AP this week describe the school's scrambling response less than two weeks after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges. Two Penn State administrators also were charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to properly report suspected child abuse.
In the first memo, issued nine days after the charges were filed, new school president Rodney Erickson told the 47-member Board of Trustees that the public relations teams of the university and the athletic department had met to "align our messages" and that he had received positive feedback after two network television interviews.
"This is another indication that we are taking control of the narrative of our story," Erickson wrote.
(Excerpt) Read more at espn.go.com ...
One memo recommend reminding any outraged donors that they wouldn't get their money back. This, however, turned out not to be a problem. Faced with a grand jury presentment that showed a cover up by action or willful inaction that went all the way to the university president, Graham Spanier, Penn State alumni and other supporters could have waited until the facts were in. Until the internal investigation were completed. Until the house were in order. Or they could have directed their money to helping the victims of child abuse.
Instead, when the Universitys image (and the football program, the worship of which was the cause of the problem) was endangered after the November 5 indictments, the number of donors and number of gifts to Penn State increased in November 2011 compared to November 2010. They almost tripled, from $3.1 million compared to $1.1 million in the previous year. Would you immediately donate to the legal defense of a family member accused of child rape? Or covering it up for years and allowing additional child abuse to occur? The donations appear to say that, at least at Penn State, Lincolns quote about standing with any man when he is right and parting with him when he is wrong isnt in play. Because at the time the donations were made, nobody knew who was in the wrong and to what purpose the money would go.
One update informed the Board that the universitys Vice President for University Relations was directing deans and chancellors to emphasize "remorse, humility and resolve." I thought these were natural emotions that came from the heart, particularly up such grotesquerie as the cover-up of child rape, and not from university directive. The cynic in me thinks of French diplomat Jean Giraudoux, who once said: The secret of success is sincerity; once you can fake that youve got it made.
The memos indicated that the Board of Trustees addressed some pressing needs, such as developing a video and more symbolic game day experiences for the Ohio State football game on the following weekend.
When debate among the full board became too cumbersome, and there were breaches in confidentiality of our discussions, the Board addressed these by using a small executive committee of Trustees from the Happy Valley area. Because the incestuous nature of Happy Valley (Sandusky played for Paterno, and was his graduate assistant, and his defensive coordinator, and McQueary went to school with Sanduskys son, and played pick-up football in the vacant lot across from Paternos house, and played football at Penn State for coaches Sandusky and Paterno, and was a graduate assistant for Paterno when he witnessed Sandusky raping the ten-year-old boy but didnt stop it, but reported it to his father, who was an adminstrator of a medical clinic to which Joe and Sue Paterno donated over $1 million, which father advise him not to go to the police, but to tell Paterno the next morning, so Paterno contacted Curley and Schultz, Penn State alumni, and not the police . . . ) hadnt yet come into play.
A Board of Trustees is a governing body and has an interest in perserving the image and financial stability of the instution, and although the minutes of all actions of the Board of Trustee, but in light of everything we know, these memos play to the creepy factor of us-versus-them that led to the cover-up of Sanduskys behavior since 1998 (and the 2000 oral sodomy episode in the Penn State football showers that wasnt reported to the police). But all of this begs the question: How in the world did the AP get these memos?
The records were obtained through a public records request filed Nov. 22 with the state Department of Education. Penn State, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer support annually, is largely exempt from the law and has declined requests for certain information as its internal investigation continues.
University spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said Erickson's memos continued after Nov. 18, but she declined to provide them to the AP.
It is not clear why Penn State elected to release these memos. The Pennsylvania state open records act does not apply to Penn State (and the State Office of Open Records has already ruled in Penn States favor regarding a request by ESPN for records). Penn State is not a public university as that term is commonly used. When Penn State gave up its private status in the early 1970s it did not become a member of public Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Instead, it's a member of Pennsylvania's Commonwealth System of Higher Education, along with Temple University, Lincoln University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Creation of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education allowed these universities to receive public money as public universities, but allowed the universities to retain their independent control rather than be controlled by the State. The Governor of Pennsylvania is on Penn States Board of Trustees, but he is not a voting member.
If this is what Penn State is releasing, who knows what will be seen at the various criminal and civil trials (or will be in the shredders).
The response of Penn State alumni? Some are disgusted with Penn State. But thats not the public image. Too many of us remember the students rioting when Joe Paterno was fired. Or the Penn State fans who spat upon, cursed, and struck the solitary silent man who dared stand outside Beaver Stadium before the last game of Penn States season with a sign that said to Honor the Child Victims.
To many, the fact that Penn State insisted on accepting a post-season bowl invitation was just another indication that Penn State just doesnt get it. The party-line is that bowl proceeds were donated to a child abuse charity, but I dont think Im alone in believing that a more appropriate act would have been to decline the invitation. Perhaps to make that donation out of the $3.1 million the school received in distress funds from supporters in November (and who knows how much in December). Or to publicly encourage alumni and fans to make contributions to a child abuse charity in lieu of attending a bowl game. Because the public didnt want to watch Penn State. Cotton Bowl capacity is 92,000. Announced attendance on Monday was 46,817.
Not that the publics opinion seems to have an effect on the Penn State Board of Trustees or those shouting We Are Penn State. On Monday?
If any program deserves the death penalty...
uh... no. homosexual pedophilia was the cause of the problem.
Standard PR response for a corporation (or a university).
Speak with one voice. Monitor the media.
Establish talking points and repeat them over and over, and don’t stray from the official line.
Express sorrow, indignation, or compassion, or whatever seems appropriate.
Separate yourself from the incident (blame those accused).
Accentuate the positive and show you are not harmed (by showing increased donations, increased applications, positive sports scores, etc.)
Duke university followed this exact pattern when it threw its own students under the bus, blamed them, expressed indignation at them,
and then stressed that donations were up, applications were up, etc. (”Duke university has a reputation to restore that is paramount to the restoration of the reputation of three students.” )
Or, as Duke trustee chairman Robert K. Steel said in explaining why Duke would not be defending its falsely-accused students: “Sometimes people have to suffer for the good of the organization.”
Expect the same kind of “crisis PR” response from Penn State.
Don’t ask the willfully ignorant to try to think. You will not only make yourself unhappy but them as well.
No different from The State Penn’s treatment (whitewash) of Climate Scammer Michael Mann.
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Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause several janitors and a janitorial supervisor not to report Sandusky's oral pedophilia in 2000.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Mike McQueary not to stop the 2002 anal rape in progress.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Mike McQueary not to call the police.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Mike McQueary's father to advise him not to call the police, but to wait until the next day to advise Joe Paterno.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Joe Paterno not to call the police when he found out (at the least) that Jerry Sandusky was naked in the showers with a naked preteen boy doing something of a sexual nature to him.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Paterno to wait a day to report it and to call the Senior Vice President of Business and Finance as well as the Athletic Director.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Curley and Schultz not to call the police, not to seek out the name of the boy, and to cover it up.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Penn State to permit Jerry Sandusky to continue to hold sleep-over athletic camps on its other campus until 2008.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause Penn State to allow Jerry Sandusky to have access to campus until two days after the grand jury presentment.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause students to riot.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause fans to spit, throw beer upon, and strike the man with the sign asking them to honor the victims of homosexual pedophilia.
Homosexual pedophilia didn't cause the Board of Trustees to get involved in that Ohio State game video and "experience."
No, the cause of all of that was the worship of football.
With due respect, was there a frenzy of specially called meetings of the Penn State Board of Trustees regarding Michael Mann?
DId Michael Mann's act constitute a felony causing bodily and psychological harm to a child, and did another Penn State employee catch him in the act and not stop him?
Is there a criminal indictment against Mann containing multiple counts?
Mann committed academic fraud, but child rape and covering it up is - at least to me - an entirely different thing.
The Penn State board was and is doing their job. Their job is not to investigate, to arrest, to plead or find guilty. Their job is to do their best to help the college, and in this case that means to try to manage the damage. It’s foolish, and a distraction, to bring them into the horror of the child rape that seems to have happened there.
Attempting a whitewash with as obvious a shill as the man who falzely accused Richard Jewel in the Olympic Bombing not only does not decrease the damage, it rightly opens the board, the University, and their defenders to ridicule.
They should have gone for at least a pretense of credibility instead of a disgraced bumbler to head the investigation.
It's only a difference of degree, not a difference of kind.
Then they fired him when trouble broke out.
Re the ping: Was the swarm notice to Penn State apologists orchestrated by the Board of Trustees or is that something handled at a less formal (but still formal) level?
That is an infinitely more valid a criticism than the original post. Saying they did a poor job is different than expecting them to not try to do their job.
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