Penn State University Still Needs to Continue its Reputation Management Campaign

Even months later, Penn State continues its task of reputation management after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Jerry Sandusky was an assistant coach for the Nittany Lions’ football team that was accused of numerous counts of sexually abusing young boys. Needless to say, this has generated quite the controversy surrounding the institution and how it runs. Numerous individuals and groups have publicly criticized the university on the internet and in the press.

Part of the reputation management campaign is dealing with the university’s decision to relieve long-time football head coach Joe Paterno from his post. Penn State received a lot of flak from alumni, former players, current students, and fans after the decision to fire Joe-Pa, as he is affectionately known. As what can only be seen as part of a PR campaign to please fans, students, and alumni the university has also announced that it will be paying Joe Paterno as if he had retired and not been let go by the university. For fans of Joe-Pa this does not seem to be enough, they feel he shouldn’t have been let go in the first place.

While many on the connected to Penn State in some fashion disliked the dismissal, many on the outside saw it as a necessary step. Numerous people believed that Joe-Pa did not handle the situation properly; they believed that he should have done more than simply pass the initial accusations on to his superiors. Paterno believes that he did the appropriate thing by passing the basic information he was given to the proper channels, but does admit that he could have done more.

As a result of Sandusky’s actions, and even some of their own, or lack thereof, the event has affected the jobs of a few different employees of the university. Including the release of Sandusky and Paterno, the university sacked the Athletic director at the time, Tim Curley, and former university vice president, Gary Schultz. As part of his duties, Schultz was in charge of overseeing campus police. Both men now face perjury and failure to report sexual abuse allegations.

In a recent town hall style meeting with alumni, current Penn State University President Rodney Erickson addressed the situation. He declared his belief that these allegations were not a university scandal, but only a Sandusky issue. While the individuals involved in this scandal have been let go by the university, it does continue to be a university issue. Jerry Sandusky will forever be linked to Penn State since he was a coach at the university while these acts were allegedly committed, so it will never be seen as only a “Sandusky Scandal”. The fact that other members of the institution had a hand in sweeping the allegations under the rug and not reporting the initial accusations keep the scandal from being only a “Sandusky Scandal” also. Dealing with these issues and reestablishing a positive reputation will drag on for Penn State for several years.

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