Review the definition of a crisis given in this chapter. How does this event illustrate a cri-sis? Given that the initial event…

Read and discuss several cases as part of this course. For each case, you will be required to write a 1-2-page single-spaced response to the case. In your write-ups, make sure to include:
Summary of the context (i.e. key points) of the caseIdentification of what you believe to be the primary issues
Scandal at Penn State
Case Author: Author: William Rick Crandall , John A. Parnell & John E. Spillan Online Pub Date: March 06, 2016 | Original Pub. Date: 2013 Subject: Crisis Management Level: | Type: Indirect case | Length: 1590 Copyright: © SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014 Organization: Penn State University | Organization size: Large Region: Northern America | State: Pennsylvania Industry: Education Originally Published in: Crandall, W. R. , Parnell, J. A. , & Spillan, J. E. ( 2013). Scandal at Penn State. In Crisis management: Leading in the new strategy landscape (2nd ed., pp. 18– 23). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN: 9781412991681. Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc. DOI: | Online ISBN: 9781506323930

© SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014 This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.
2020 SAGE Publications Ltd. All Rights Reserved. The case studies on SAGE Business Cases are designed and optimized for online learning. Please refer to the online version of this case to fully experience any video, data embeds, spreadsheets, slides, or other resources that may be included. This content may only be distributed for use within University of Colorado Boulder. SAGE© SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014SAGE Business CasesPage 2 of 5 Scandal at Penn State

Abstract This case looks at the events surrounding the scandal of child abuse that erupted around a foot–ball coach at Penn State University. It examines the university’s response in managing the crisis and asks questions of a culture that allowed abuse to carry on unchecked for so long.
For years, assistant football coach at Penn State Jerry Sandusky had appeared to be a model citizen in the community. He was a respected football coach under the legendary Joe Paterno and was the founder of The Second Mile, a charitable organization to help disadvantaged youth. He was also a serial child rapist. Of course, many people would think that it was unfortunate that no one was aware of his dark behavior. Per–haps if someone knew and contacted the authorities, Sandusky could have been caught and stopped. In fact, people knew about Jerry Sandusky, and some of them were in high places at Penn State University. An inter–nal investigation of the incident summarizes the findings: Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University—President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno—failed to protect against a child sexual preda–tor harming children for decades. Those men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. (Freeh, Sporkin, & Sullivan, 2012, p. 14) An examination of meeting notes and e-mails reveals that Spanier, Schultz, Curley, and Paterno had met and discussed the problem with various authorities, not including the board of trustees. However, the criticism, and what led to the scandal, was that they did not do enough to prevent further reoccurrences of Sandusky’s predatory behavior. Was it an attempt to cover up an incident so as not to embarrass the university and its stakeholders? Or was it a strategy on the part of the leadership to be discreet concerning a university em–ployee with nearly 30 years of service? Or was the event so bizarre and uncomfortable that they just did not know how to manage it properly? What is known is that these four university officials went into crisis management mode and attempted to man–age the scandal.
They held numerous meetings, devised various strategies, and contacted various authori–ties, including the university police and legal office. Specifically, two areas in their crisis management efforts were not sufficient: (1) the board of trustees was not kept in the information loop, and (2) the victims of the assaults were not properly identified and protected. Crisis management is a huge task and must be taken se–riously. For these four men, it cost them their jobs; it put the university through an agonizing trial; and perhaps most importantly, it changed the lives of a number of young men forever because of repeated assaults from a child predator.
The Scandal
Jerry Sandusky joined the coaching staff of Penn State in 1969 where he remained until his retirement in 1999. After his retirement, he continued to have access to the Penn State campus athletic facilities because of his status as an emeritus professor. The scandal that involves Sandusky became the worst ever in the history of college sports and led to harsh penalties by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Page 3 of 5
Scandal at Penn State against the university (Wolff & Gagne, 2012). The crisis commenced with two events that occurred more than a decade ago. In May 1998, a mother report–ed to the University Police Department that Sandusky had showered with her 11-year-old son in the Lasch Building on the Penn State campus (Freeh et al., 2012). The police investigation does not reveal evidence of a crime, but it did bring a reprimand from a police detective not to shower with any other children.
A case–worker from the Department of Public Welfare was present at this meeting. Police Chief Thomas Harmon closed the case: “Sandusky was advised that there was no criminal behavior established and that the matter was closed as an investigation” (Freeh et al., 2012, p. 20).
At this point, all four Penn State officials—Spanier, Schultz, Curley, and Paterno—were informed of the police report and proceeded as if the event were now behind them. That was to change on February 9, 2001, when Mike McQueary, a Penn State football assistant, witnessed a sexual encounter involving Jerry Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy in the showers of the Lasch Building. McQueary reported the incident to Coach Paterno the following day. Paterno met with Curley and Schultz on Sunday, February 11. University president Spanier joined them to discuss a strategy for addressing the incident in late February. They agreed to confront Sandusky.
On March 5, Curley met with Sandusky and in–formed him that he was uncomfortable with his behavior with young boys. Curley advised Sandusky not to bring any more boys to the athletic facilities. On March 19, Curley met with the executive director of the Sec–ond Mile charitable organization, of which Sandusky was the founder, and informed him of the incident that was observed by Mike McQueary. The Second Mile leadership did not take action and concluded that it was a “nonincident” (Freeh et al., 2012). Meanwhile, President Spanier made no mention of the Sandusky incident at the board of trustees meeting on March 16, 2001.
Eight and a half years later, on January 7, 2010, the university received subpoenas from the Pennsylvania attorney general for personnel records on Sandusky. During 2010–2011, investigations were launched con–cerning Jerry Sandusky, and the crisis rapidly escalated, resulting in charges of child sex abuse that occurred both on and off the Penn State campus. The resulting trial occurred in 2012, and on July 23, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse.
The Response
The viewpoints of the stakeholders associated with this case varied. Some thought the university should be vilified for its lack of empathy for the victims and its inability to keep a child predator out of its midst, resulting in harsh sanctions by the NCAA. Others felt that the scandal was a “witch hunt” with authorities looking for scapegoats to blame. The crisis has become an emotional hot point in State College, Pennsylvania, where those loyal to the university and the late coach Paterno have been pitted against others who believe that the university was irresponsible (Fitzpatrick, 2012).
The Board of Trustees’ Response
The board of trustees removed legendary football coach Joe Paterno and the president, Graham Spanier, from their positions. The two other officials, senior vice president for finance and business, Gary C. Schultz, and the athletic director, Timothy M. Curley, both stepped down (Tsikoudakis, 2011). In a dramatic move, interim Penn State president Rodney Erickson, who took over after Graham Spanier was ousted, ordered the removal of a statue of Coach Paterno from outside Beaver Stadium. Although the deci–sion was controversial, particularly among alumni, he felt the icon was a “lightning rod of controversy” and needed to be removed so that healing could occur. Erickson commented, “Were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims Page 4 of 5
Scandal at Penn State of child abuse” (Brown, 2012). The NCAA Response The sanctions handed down by the NCAA were especially harsh, so much so that it even surprised some sports journalists, who felt that the association was more accustomed to dealing with athletes who receive illegal gifts such as free tattoos or athletic shoes (Wolff & Gagne, 2012). The penalties to Penn State were meant to punish, and in doing so, many innocent stakeholders also suffered. The sanctions included:
• The football program was barred from any postseason games for four years, starting with the 2012 season.
• Scholarships were cut back, beginning in 2013.
• Coach Paterno’s wins for the past 14 years were taken off the books, a total of 111 from his once-record 409 victories. The sanctions have come under considerable criticism because of the far-reaching extent of the punishments. Indeed, the intent of the NCAA was to rebuild “a culture that went terribly awry” (Maher Bachman, & Miller, 2012). However, the sanctions relied heavily on a single report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh and two associates at his law firm, also known as the Freeh Report (Maher et al., 2012).
Discussion Questions
1. Review the definition of a crisis given in this chapter. How does this event illustrate a cri–sis?
2. Given that the initial events occurred as far back as 1998, why do you think this case took so long to become public knowledge?
3. Were the sanctions by the NCAA too harsh, too lenient, or appropriate? Why?
Brown, E. (2012, July 23). NCAA set to act as Penn State removes statue. Wall Street Journal, p. A3. Fitzpatrick, F. (2012, June 4). Fury returns to Penn State. Newsweek, pp. 14–16. Freeh, L. , Sporkin, S. , & Sullivan, E. (2012, July 12). Report of the Special Investigative Counsel regarding the actions of The Pennsylvania State University related to the child sexual abuse committed by Gerald A. Sandusky. Retrieved August 2, 2012, from–NAL_071212.pdf. Maher, K. , Bachman, R. , & Miller, J. (2012, July 24). NCAA slams Penn State—Top college football program is hobbled for years; Paterno wins record negated. Wall Street Journal, p. A3. Tsikoudakis, M. (2011, November 20). Penn State abuse scandal sharpens focus on risks. Business Insur–ance. Retrieved from Wolff, A. , & Gagne, M. (2012, July 2). Is this the end for Penn State? Sports Illustrated, 38–41. SAGE© SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014SAGE Business CasesPage 5 of 5 Scandal at Penn State

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Review the definition of a crisis given in this chapter. How does this event illustrate a cri-sis? Given that the initial events occurred as far back as 1998, why do you think this case took so long to become public knowledge?

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