This time last year, Penn State was just another big time football program. Myself and other students were enjoying the time off. Players were prepping to make a run at the Big Ten title and the school had the face of college football at the helm: Joe Paterno.
Funny how much can change in twelve months.
NCAA handed down harsh penalties to Penn State this past Monday due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. These penalties include a $60 million fine, no bowl games for four years, the vacating of all of Paterno’s wins from 1998 to 2011, and a serious cut in the scholarships they can award. And although it looked as if it couldn’t get worse for Penn State after these NCAA sanctions, it has.
Some of Penn State’s corporate sponsors are reconsidering their partnerships with the school. Yesterday State Farm announced that they will be pulling ads from Penn State football broadcasts. They were vague with their released statement, simply saying “We will not directly support Penn State football this year, we just feel it was the best decision.” General Motors and Nike are also reevaluating their sponsorship of Penn State, but have not yet made a decision on the matter. On the other hand, sponsors such as Highmark (the largest insurance provider in Pennsylvania), PNC Bank, and Pepsi Co. have announced their continued partnership with the school despite the actions of a handful of individuals.
In addition to some sponsors potentially abandoning Penn State, players are now free to transfer to any other college and have the opportunity to play this season. The loss of scholarships for these deserving student athletes coupled with the other penalties could push players to transfer. Head Coach Bill O’Brien is working hard keep his team together, even while other universities are evaluating the Penn State roster. Teams such as USC, Baylor, and Michigan have expressed interest in Penn State players, but the team seems to be standing strong. Quarterback Matt McGloin released a statement on his commitment to the university, “We, as student-athletes, are being punished for going to class, graduating, being involved in the community and playing football. Even though these penalties are extremely harsh, I am a Nittany Lion and will remain one.” McGloin’s full statement can be read here.
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” As a Penn State student and a member of the State College community, this statement represents exactly how I feel. First and foremost, I feel horrible for the victims and my thoughts and prayers are always with them. Beyond that, it pains me to see these student athletes, who were toddlers when this scandal actually happened, lose their scholarships. And it feels like a personal blow every time I hear that one of our corporate sponsors has decided to sever their partnership with us. I used to think that all of our sponsors were there to support the university, its academics, and ALL of its sports programs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The sentiment on the Penn State campus and in the State College community is similar to my own, but we continue to band together and support one another as a family.
Through the good and terribly bad, we ARE always Penn State.