In downtown State College, you can find Joe Paterno’s face on nearly every block. It’s on paintings, book covers, and — at a Dunkin’ Donuts shop — “We Love Our Joe” mugs.
And a scandal related to the head football coach — even a scandal where he’s not charged with any crime — strikes deep and wide both in Centre County and the larger Penn State community.
“It’s pretty depressing,” said Becky Durst, who has owned Rinaldo’s Barber Shop, near South Allen Street and College Avenue, for 17 years. “There certainly is a dark cloud hanging over Happy Valley.”
Penn State students and alumni have taken to quoting a line from the alma mater — “May no act of ours bring shame” — as talk of the charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and two top university officials engulfs the community.
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Sandusky was arrested Saturday and faces charges that he sexually abused eight boys over a 15-year period. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, interim vice president for finance and business, are charged with perjury and failure to report the alleged abuse to authorities. Requests by the two men to step down — Curley on leave, Schultz to retirement — were accepted by university trustees Sunday.
Brad Scioli, who played defensive end for Sandusky in the late 1990s, was clearly shaken by the allegations.
“Over the last couple days it’s all I’ve been thinking about,” he said. “It’s hard to believe, disturbing, disgusting, shameful.”
Scioli, who went on to an NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts, is now a father, a high school teacher and a football coach at Upper Merion High School. He said if the allegations against Sandusky are true, “he should never be able to come out of jail the rest of his life.”
Scioli isn’t sure if the school will be able to recover from the scandal.
“There’s so much good that Penn State has done for so many people,” Scioli said. “That’s why it hurts the most, because I know the kind of people that I went to school with. To think that one guy can ruin it for a lot of people, it’s sad. I’m mad that this could happen, mad that people’s lives are ruined. ... It’s not forgivable.”
One of the more famous players — and one of the last players — Sandusky coached, former Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, chronicled his mixed feelings on the coach in a post on his Washington Post blog, “Hard Hits.”
“In the end, regardless of the outcome, it won’t change all of the great things I witnessed from him while I was in school,” Arrington wrote. “But the sad reality is, again regardless of the outcome, it has shattered the image of a man who meant so much to me.”
T.J. Bard, president of the University Park Undergraduate Association, said in a statement Monday afternoon that the victims’ wellbeing and closure for all involved should be the top priority. He also offered a reminder of the presumption of innocence and asked students to remain “bonded together” as the case moves through the legal system.
“No individual’s actions, student, alumni or employee of Penn State, can deter from the honor, tradition and talents of the Penn State community at large,” he said.
Others with ties to the university echoed his view.
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