I know you’re hopin’ to find someone who’s gonna give you peace of mind.
When times go bad, when times get rough, won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff.
I’m just second-hand news, I’m just second-hand newsssssssssss…
Fleetwood Mac sang “Second Hand News” back in 1977, even before Penn State met Alabama head-on at the goal line in that fateful 14-7 Sugar Bowl loss back in our callow days of Nittany Lion innocence when Sandusky was the name of a coach, not a scandal, and, hell, before some of you young whippersnappers were even born. The album was “Rumours,” which quickly went platinum, having been carried by Stevie Nicks’ mournful croaking of the hauntingly overplayed “Dreams.”
So much for my career as a musical historian—I’ll keep my crystal visions to myself. Therefore, let us abruptly shuck our reveries of mystical musical “rumours” and segue to Penn State’s notorious Board of Trustees. The subject of today’s Sudden Impact is rumors, spelled the American way, with heartfelt Turkey thanks to Noah Webster for removing the unnecessary “U”.
Tuning into Twitter, the Internet’s version of “Can You Top This?”, one encounters a surfeit of Penn State rumors. This week’s potential activities seem to be at the temporal focal point of speculation connected to the much maligned (deservedly) BoT. Well, hell, everything Penn State does or has had done to it involves the BoT either directly or indirectly. Accordingly, the fact that those university overseers are holding an open meeting this weekend has generated a maelstrom of speculation about the reasoning behind and the timing of the meeting.
The Star Trekkian term “damage control” entered into the Tweetsteria at some point. Yeah, the board has done lots of PR damage by being a bunch of putzes (and Peetzes) with respect to accepting the flawed Freeh report and scurrying on with a laser focus on the future. Coherent light beams aside, the board seems to want to publicly present the impression that it is open to governance changes and suggestions. Naturally, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) has a keen interest in any forum that is even ostensibly poised to meet the challenge of improving oversight; thus, PS4RS is coordinating representation at the public sessions, to wit:
The BoT will be holding a retreat this weekend that will include public sessions. Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) is currently looking for alumni, students and friends of Penn State interested in attending the August 25 & 26 Board of Trustees Public Meeting. It is very important that the Penn State community remain engaged in the dealings of the Board of Trustees to reinforce our position as stakeholders of our University.
The August meeting will be held over two days in Room 207 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, University Park, Pennsylvania. Public session meeting times are listed below. Please note times may adjust slightly.
Saturday, August 25 – 3:45 pm until 5 pm
Sunday, August 26 – 9 am until 2 pm
PS4RS is looking to have a delegation of members attend the meeting. Dress is recommended to be what you would wear to a business meeting.
Please fill in the survey below so our event coordinators can contact prior to the meeting.
Now, back to the Tweetanoid rumors.
One rumor that is at least partially based on fact is that former president Graham Spanier will spill the beans from his perspective, perhaps via ESPN, during this week. He and his lawyers have been hinting at a press conference for a couple of weeks now. Tweeps are saying that it will happen this week, and that the board is quaking in its boots. Ooh, baby, baby, Spanier has big connections and knows what’s going on in everyone’s closet! He can bring down some big-ass trustees with one stroke of his mighty mouth, er pen, or whatever. OMG heads will roll! So goes the thinking of the Titans of Twitterbole, anyway. More likely, Spanier is planning the presser just to cover his own ass, as he has avoided criminal charges thus far but is certainly not immune from indictment. Give us your best shrug, Graham baby!
Another rumor is that the Clery Act investigation being conducted by the US Department of Education will come to a head this week, and OMG heads will roll. Let me not be too facetious here, as this one has credence, at least with respect to the potential that Penn State will take a serious hit from the investigation’s findings. In the worst case, PSU could incur a large fine, in addition to the possibility of losing federal grant money, student aid, and loans. So, yeah, it’s a big deal, and while much of the Freeh report can be disputed, there is enough good data in it to leave little doubt that Penn State was seriously out of compliance with the law. (We won’t debate the merit of the onerous record keeping and statistics generation required by the law, which is bureaucratic overkill typical of reactionary legislation. Suffice to say that it is the law.) The Executive Branch of the sitting administration in Washington seems to recognize no boundaries, and with a presidential election right around the corner, Penn State’s dirty laundry makes it the perfect target for yet another grandstand play. The dubiously good news is that the maximum fine levied thus far for violations of the Clery Act has been $350,000, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the $60 million assessed against PSU by the NCAA. However, that amount is chump change compared to what loss of Federal grant funding would cost Penn State. Furthermore, for political reasons I’ve already stated, Penn State is likely to break the record for fines, just to add insult to injury. On this one, be afraid! Be very afraid! The phone calls are coming from inside the apartment!
Of course, we’ve already covered the accreditation warning by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which stated that Penn State’s accreditation was “in jeopardy.” We attributed this slack-jawed quasi-threat to a vortex generated by a liberal interpretation of the Freeh report and the validation provided by the NCAA’s sanctimonious sanctions, stirred by the ubiquitous, vindictive Vicky Triponey’s input to her new boss, who just happens to be chair of the accreditation committee. Yeah, sure, we here at the Turkey have been known to start a rumor or two ourselves! While the Philadelphia Inquirer doesn’t think there’s much danger here, the coupling of loss of accreditation with loss of Federal funds would be absolutely devastating.
Other rumors swirl around The Second Mile’s connections with highly placed Pennsylvania politicians. There is probably lots of dirt to be dug up following the money there. In some cases, though, Tweepsters are giving the governor a free ride by misdirecting their vitriol toward social welfare agencies and police departments when they should be setting their sights higher. Follow the money! This Turkey sees the faint glimmer of the 24K real stuff among the plethora of fool’s gold nuggets — big-time politics is a dirty game, one dirty hand washes the other, and so on, and so on. On the surface, we see a mutual protection society composed of Governor Tom Corbett, the board of trustees, and Rod Erickson. Let the digging commence. Much as Joe Paterno’s denouement served as a smokescreen for the board of trustees’ culpability, so could the Penn State situation in its entirety be a big diversion from a major statewide scandal.
That does it for rumors. Sometimes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Other times, the smoke and mirrors send you way astray of the mark. Trust your intellect and judgment to separate the worthy ones from the pure folly. And keep on Tweetin’.
Joe Posnanski’s biography of Joe Paterno is available today. This Turkey has a copy and will begin reading it forthwith. Advance copies were given to the media, so there are plenty of reviews out there. Among them:
I’ve bloviated incessantly, so let me now cess with a touch of ironic humor from Jeff Byers of StateCollege.com, who reports that Penn State will be revamping its hygiene policies, enjoining shower-taking on campus.
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell? Try eBay. I ain’t buying.