PSU’s pain continues. With Sports Illustrated’s trumped up story, pending lawsuits, upcoming trials, and bowl bans, it won’t end soon.
But someday it will. So, here’s a letter to those born the year of the scandal, the Penn State class of 2031.
Today your Penn State experience concludes, an experience profoundly different from mine, which ended 50 years ago. You gleaned information from Google glasses and talking phones. I actually went to Patee Library. You dictated papers to your computer. I used a typewriter. I shot videotape, and edited reel to reel tapes in the radio studio. You generate holographs and manipulate digital bytes.
But you graduate a Nittany Lion, as I did. You take your place in a proud tradition, with a worthy degree from a fine public institution, known worldwide for engineers, meterologists, writers, business leaders, and good sports programs, including football, and as a school whose student athletes mostly graduate.
Your football team was once led by the most revered person in college athletics, who knew presidents and raised billions for the school, who set an example of winning with honor, but was fired and died amid accusation and suspicion the year you were born, forever changing how many see your school. Atrocities committed against children, how unversity leaders handled those crimes, and how the school’s trustees reacted when the news became a national disgrace, produced a rift in the Penn State family that festers still.
This is the only Penn State you’ve ever known. You see it with the perspective of history, but without the rose colored tint of Happy Valley before 2011.
We who care about Penn State have spent these last two decades rebuilding our image and rededicating our priorities, which I think are the same as a half century ago. In 1981, we were proud of our football team, and proud of our theater, our Blue Band, Americ’a first African-American astronaut, our academic prowess, the community leaders our alumni were, and that we became.
Those horrible acts were the crimes of one person, and the wrong actions of a few more. They never reflected what we were as a school. You now know that, too.
I hope the class of 1981 showed you what it means to be a Penn Stater, as I’m confident you will show the class of 2081. So as you cross campus for the last time as a student, give a nod to that goofy old guy in the Penn State tie. That’s me. I’m proud of you.
I’m Penn State Proud.