Penn State looks ahead but scandal fallout lingers

Penn State looks ahead but scandal fallout lingers

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Almost every time Penn State leaders try to move forward, some event or milestone invariably renews focus on its recent, painful past.

A year after retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges, the fallout from one of the worst scandals ever in higher education promises to linger still for months, if not years, to come. New charges that former university president Graham Spanier and two other officials conspired to conceal allegations against Sandusky provided the latest agonizing reminder.

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced last month to at least 30 years in prison after being convicted in June on dozens of criminal counts covering allegations on and off campus. He has maintained his innocence and is pursuing appeals.

Speaking Friday in Washington, university president Rodney Erickson said ``we can expect more fallout'' with civil lawsuits and more criminal proceedings on the horizon.

Many alumni, students and State College residents are weary of the seemingly endless trickle of developments since Sandusky's arrest on Nov. 5, 2011.

Most students at the Hetzel Union Building lounge paid no attention Thursday to the news about the charges against Spanier airing on the big-screen television. They were more engrossed in texting friends or working on laptops.

Others questioned before a Bruce Springsteen concert that night in State College expressed a mix of apathy and anger about the latest charges, fatigue over yet another development in a year full of shocking ones. Many said they were tired of the media scrutiny.

Asked to describe the Sandusky investigation, Joe McDonald of State College said, ``Let's wait until it all plays out, and then we'll know more.''

And how has the school handled the aftermath of the scandal a year later?

``I think treading water, but let's wait until everything comes out,'' McDonald said before walking away.

Lawyers for Spanier and the other officials charged, athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz, have maintained their clients' innocence.

``People of this character do not do, have not done what they're charged with,'' Schultz's attorney Tom Farrell said after his client and Curley were arraigned on the new charges Friday. Curley and Schultz have also maintained their innocence to earlier charges of perjury and failing to report an abuse allegation.

In the year since Sandusky was first charged, the school has appeared to accept the inevitable tide of changes but worked to maintain control where it could. A ``moving forward'' message established from the stately Old Main administration building is part of a $2.5 million contract with public relations firms to repair the school's image.

Erickson, who took over after Spanier left under pressure four days after Sandusky's arrest, promised this week at the university's inaugural conference on child sex abuse prevention research and treatment that the school would be a leader on such issues.

And many recommendations that resulted from the school's investigation into the scandal have been put in place, including tighter security restrictions around athletic facilities. The new leaders of the board have promised to closely study the report's recommendations to improve governance and oversight.

The most popular move university leaders made was the hiring of new football coach Bill O'Brien. In the face of NCAA sanctions that could weaken the marquee football program, he has galvanized support among alumni, students and fans.

``We've really rebuilt as a university,'' senior Ingrid Kaplan said Thursday at the campus student union. ``There's still a lot of rebuilding because of the new charges ... but I think overall we've really come together as a university to show that this will not bring us down regardless of how bad the situation is.''

Sophomore Alexandra Busalacchi of Bethlehem, said she thought the school's new leadership has done a good job in tackling the problem of child abuse and reaching out to abuse victims, and that Freeh's report ``was a good acknowledgement of the situation.''

``We're focused on efforts to get better and better,'' Busalacchi said while volunteering a table selling ear warmers for the THON student charity for pediatric cancer patients and research. ``I'm definitely proud to be a member of our student body, and I think we've responded well.''

But for some, another casualty of the scandal was faith in the university and its governing board of trustees. Penn State drew negative reviews from outside Pennsylvania, and a groundswell of distrust remains among many in an alumni base of about 560,000 and the untold thousands of others whose only ties to the school are as football fans.

It stems in large part from the trustees' firing of the late Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno on the same day that Spanier left his job. Paterno was beloved as much in the community for his philanthropic efforts and focus on education as for his two national titles and hundreds of victories.

Anger bubbled over again after the publication of the report summarizing the school's investigation into the scandal, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The university-sanctioned report accused Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz of covering up allegations to protect Penn State's image. Paterno's family and the school officials firmly contend the allegations are untrue.

Alumni were irritated that trustees accepted Freeh's report without doing a detailed review of it and that they also left unchallenged the NCAA's assertion that Penn State had a ``football-first'' culture. NCAA data released last month showed the Penn State football team had a record graduation rate of 91 percent, well above the major college average of 68 percent.

``We're not going to lose sight of the past, but this is about the future,'' said Larry Schultz, a 1980 Penn State graduate who has organized two ``Rally for Resignations'' this fall. ``What we're asking for is very, very simple. ... We want answers. We want the truth.''

The fallout from the scandal was not limited to campus. The criminal investigation into Sandusky has become a political issue, too. The probe began in early 2009 while Gov. Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania's attorney general. Corbett, a Republican who was elected governor in 2010, has said politics played no role in the investigation.

Kathleen Kane, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has vowed that, if elected, she would demand an investigation into why it took years for Sandusky to be charged. Her Republican challenger, David Freed, has not ruled out a review of the case and has said that, if he were to come across any evidence that required a review, one would be done.

The fate of any investigation, yet another effect of the sex abuse scandal, will be decided in Tuesday's election. And the next day, Spanier is expected to be arraigned.



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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 


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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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