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Penn State scandal fallout could extend to donors

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Penn State scandal fallout could extend to donors

By Mark Scolforo
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- One major Penn State donor says he might write the university out of his will, while others say neither the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal nor recent unpopular actions by the university's leadership are making them rethink their financial support for the school.

But how those issues resonate with alumni and other financial supporters -- groups whose philanthropy has sparked a building boom on campus in recent years -- could have repercussions for decades to come.

The university says it's too soon to gauge the effect on fundraising of the recent decisions to tear down Joe Paterno's statue and acquiesce to severe NCAA penalties, but there are signs of discontent.

"I happen to believe that giving money to this particular board of trustees and this particular president is flushing it down the toilet," said Chicago venture capitalist George Middlemas, a 10 million-plus donor and Joe Paterno loyalist since they met in the 1960s. "The university says, Well, our contributions are up.' That's because people are fulfilling their pledges, but they're not going to offer any new pledges, as far as I can tell."

Middlemas said this week he had plans to donate 50 percent of his residual net worth to Penn State after he died, but was reconsidering that decision.

"The longer these bozos stay in their position, the easier it's going to be for me to sign the paperwork that's in process right now," he said.

Super donor Lloyd Huck, a retired Merck & Co. chairman and former president of the school's trustees, called the scandal "a terrible situation," but he sees it as confined to several people and not something that will cause him to halt his contributions, which at last count totaled more than 40 million.

"It has not changed my attitude towards the university itself," Huck said. "It's still a great institution."

Bob Capretto, an Oakmont, Pa., real estate investor and donor who played defensive back on Paterno's first team, isn't satisfied with a recent report conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh but said that won't stop him from giving in the future. He said Paterno wouldn't want that.

"I think that would be knee-jerk and I think it would be temporary," Capretto said.

State College developer Galen Dreibelbis, listed among Penn State's 5 million-plus donors, said he hasn't decided if his philanthropy will continue, but either way, he does not want any of his money being used to pay a 60 million fine imposed by the NCAA.

"I'm going to do what the NCAA didn't do," Dreibelbis said. "I'm going to wait to see all the things that happened, and see what the clear effect of this (is), and then I'll evaluate for myself."

Penn State announced earlier this month that its 2 billion For the Future campaign, set to conclude in 2014, has reached 1.6 billion ahead of schedule, and that it had received 209 million over the previous year, the second-highest total in its history.

Ira Stolzer, a retired Hallmark Cards Inc. marketing executive and a member of the university's national championship gymnastics team in the 1970s, has been active in fundraising among former Penn State athletes as part of the campaign.

"I can tell you I've been on the phone nonstop for a week, and the single theme is: how can we help?" said Stolzer, who lives in Kansas City, Kan.

Some alumni are considering a court challenge to the NCAA sanctions, although their legal standing isn't clear. Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group critical of the trustees formed in the wake of Sandusky's scandal, is pursuing what it calls an "exploration of legal recourse."

On Friday, the Penn State Alumni Association's executive board sent an email addressing the scandal that asked its members to act to "shore up our university and restore our reputation" by volunteering with and donating to child abuse prevention and Penn State-related organizations, by becoming more active on campus, and to "communicate and tell our story."

The experience at some other schools suggests the steady drip of bad news may not translate into a significant drop in support.

Last year, after allegations arose that a University of Miami booster had for years treated football players and recruits to nightclub outings, dinners and trips to strip clubs, the school continued to raise money aggressively, and was well on the way to reaching a 1.6 billion goal.

After the University of Alabama was penalized by the NCAA in 2002 for recruiting violations, it received 24 million for athletic department facility upgrades.

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AP writers John Zenor in Montgomery, Ala., Michael Rubinkam and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.