(Reuters) - Penn State University was hit with unprecedented penalties on Monday in response to child sex abuse by a former assistant football coach at the school.
The punishment includes a $60 million fine to be used to fund a foundation to help victims of child sex abuse and voids the team’s victories from 1998 through 2011.
Here are comments and reaction regarding the NCAA decision:
“The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.
“Such egregious behavior is not only against our bylaws and constitution but against our value system and basic human decency.”
“What we can do is impose sanctions that both reflect the magnitude of these terrible acts and that also ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry. Our goal is not to be just punitive but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture and daily mindset in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”
“Our colleagues at Penn State, individuals that we have known and with whom we have worked for many years, have egregiously failed on many levels - morally, ethically and potentially criminally. They have failed their great university, their faculty and staff, their students and alumni, their community and state - and they have failed their fellow member institutions in the Big Ten Conference.
“We recognize that what occurred at Penn State University is a consequence of the concentration of power that can result from a successful athletic program and the failure of institutional leadership to maintain institutional control.”
“It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes. We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative.”
“We are deeply disappointed that some of our leaders could have turned a blind eye to such abuse, and agree that the culture at Penn State must change. As we move forward, today’s student athletes have a challenging road ahead. But they will do the right thing, as they have always done.
“Our faculty, staff, students, athletes, and parents will work together as Penn State begins this new chapter. Through this cooperation and collaboration, Penn State will become a national model for compliance, ethics, and embodiment of the student athlete credo.”
“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the university forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes. I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country.”
“The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno.
“The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
“Punishing past, present and future students of the university because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.”
EVAN ROYSTER, WASHINGTON REDSKINS RUNNING BACK, PENN STATE 2007-2010, VIA TWITTER:
“ah crap ... so i lost every college football game i ever played in?”
“It’s disappointing. It’s going to be difficult for all of us but it was the right thing to do.
“We as students and student athletes have the responsibility to pick up the pieces of this tragedy and put this university back together.”
“Unfortunately, it looks a little bit like ‘$60 million in fines, rich school gets to basically buy its way out of being investigated.’
“What’s happening here is the NCAA is imposing punishments which sound quite Draconian but they’re essentially conducting no investigation.
“It looks a little bit like exactly the same kind of thing that Penn State is being punished for and that’s rushing to judgment, acting out of a concern for publicity and failing to investigate when you had an obligation to investigate.”
“I’m impressed with what they’re describing as the purpose of the sanctions, which is to change the culture from one in which the athletic department runs the university to the university running the athletic department.
“It’s interesting they took away the wins because that makes Joe Paterno no longer the winningest coach of all time. Here he dies as the winningest coach of all time and now he’s not. That is really extraordinary.”
KAREN POLESIR, DIRECTOR, PHILADELPHIA SNAP (SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS)
“We’re very disappointed that there’s no suspension of football. That’s the most effective deterrent to current and future cover-ups.
“No penalty addresses the extraordinarily callous public demonstrations by many at Penn State in support of Joe Paterno. The school’s administration failed egregiously to rein in those whose actions intimidated victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from speaking up. The rallies and riots were a clear indication that kids aren’t safe in the Penn State community. Yet even now, almost no one’s talking about or addressing the rallies and riots. That’s an egregious oversight.
“The unhealthy culture of secrecy and self-preservation at the university didn’t spring up suddenly. It won’t be fixed suddenly. And it certainly won’t be fixed by wishful thinking and naïve hopefulness.”
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Bill Trott