Higher Penn State Donations Aren't Sign of Widespread Acceptance of Scandal
According to reports, one place where Penn State has not been suffering during the outbreak of this Jerry Sandusky/administration scandal is its coffers of cash. ABC News reported that Penn State has, in fact, received its second-highest amount of donations in the past school year.
On its face, this seems a little odd. The university is currently embroiled in a scandal that could potentially (if it hasn't already) implicate its highest levels of authority, so if people acting as agents of the institution are potentially to blame, then the institution itself is potentially to blame. That's the way authority works.
So then, if this is Penn State's problem and you give more money to Penn State in response to the problem, that's a tacit approval of all that went on, no?
Well, in fact, no. It's the opposite.
Here's the thing: To the best of what we know, every known potential bad actor in this entire ordeal is gone. Head football coach Joe Paterno was immediately fired by the board of trustees before he could coach another game. People protested and rioted, but it was permanent and final.
Meanwhile, president Graham Spanier was also summarily dismissed. Vice president Gary Schulz and athletic director Tim Curley are both similarly out of authority at Penn State and awaiting perjury charges for their roles in a potential cover-up of Sandusky's crimes.
So put it this way: If these Penn State donors are in any way supportive of the actions of Spanier, Schulz, Curley or even Paterno, the last thing they'd be doing is increasing their financial support of the university. That'd be completely counterintuitive.
On the flip side, if the donors were happy with Penn State's response, why wouldn't donations be up in the wake of a scandal like this? What sense is there in a stance like "I like what they're doing here, but they'll have to keep making the school better without my usual donation!"? That doesn't pass the smell test.
So the next time you see a major sports commentator react to this news with froth and bluster—like, say, The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre...
...just realize that these folks didn't really think things through, and ignore them.
Penn State's response to this scandal once it hit has been more or less reasonable, and those responsible for the parts of its response that weren't reasonable are now gone. If that weren't the case, donations probably wouldn't be nearly as high. Granted, that's not a very provocative stance to take, but in this instance, the truth is kinda boring, and that's usually just how it goes.
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