We Are?

What happens when an institution—one that has shaped your life and identity—so horribly and publicly lets you down?

We received this submission from a Penn State associate professor who, due to tenure considerations, asked that we not use his name.

I’ll leave it to the psychologists and sociologists to explain the human need to belong. All I understand is that it’s universal—from hedge fund managers sharing the same Connecticut zip code to Juggalos gathering in their painted, fucked-up glory, we all want to be a part of something. Shared experience is generally inseparable from human happiness.

I’m sure this concept has a lot to do with the popularity of college football.

My college is Penn State. I go the football games, reveling in the shared joy of that experience. But my connection to this university, and the extent to which my identity is tied up with it, goes much further than being a season ticket holder at Beaver Stadium. Twenty years ago, I graduated from Penn State; eight years ago, I came back to Penn State to teach. And then, a couple days ago, Penn State was hit with a nuclear bomb.

I hope you’ll excuse the metaphor.

Because you’ve no doubt heard it already, and because I don’t have the stomach to revisit the details, I’ll spare you a rehashing here. Suffice it to say that this, as more than one respected writer has called it in recent days, might be the worst story to hit college sports since, well, ever. It’s horrible on every level, and I know I speak for a lot of Penn Staters when I say we simply feel lost.

Before I go any farther: I’m not a victim here. I’m well aware of that. The victims, if the terrible allegations are true, are kids who fell prey to a pedophile, and to the inaction of administrators who knew a monster was in their midst. As the father of young children, I know the feelings of fury and disgust these allegations push into your gut.

But there’s a ripple effect here, as there always is with these situations. The victims’ families suffer unimaginably, as do the families of the accused. And then there’s us, hundreds of thousands of us in this case, who chose a university as the place we’d get our degree and spend the proverbial best years of our lives, and then continue to support (financially and otherwise) the rest of our lives. And not just support; “represent” is probably a better word, and one that goes both ways. Like alumni of any big college, we wear our dedication on our heads and chests. We actively, proudly represent Penn State.

Or we used to.

Because, as stated, “represent” goes both ways. We are represented, too, by the university, in everything that word implies. Mostly, at a big school like Penn State, that means athletics. Football in particular. We are, most of us, proud of our school because our school—specifically the talented young men who wear our colors on the field—gives us something to be proud of. Something to be a part of. They give us an identity. They provide a focal point around which to rally. They let us belong.

So who, or what, do I belong to now?

Penn State still has one of the best public engineering schools in the nation, and one of the most important agricultural programs in the country. We make the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted. Our researchers have contributed to Nobel-winning research on climate change. Our student body hosts an annual cancer fundraiser that stands as the largest student-run philanthropy on the planet.

And sports? Our football coach has donated millions back to the university and helped raise untold millions more, doubling the size of the library and helping fund scholarships that have enabled countless kids to attend Penn State. And as far as the NCAA is concerned, our athletic department has still never been caught “cheating,” something the hopeful among us (there are fewer today, certainly) would like to believe is because we don’t cheat. Our athletes graduate at a higher rate than at almost any other major public university. In many undeniable ways, this place has and will continue to contribute a lot of good to the world.

Somehow I doubt anyone will remember that anytime soon.

I’m not looking for sympathy, although it’s been nice, among the poor-taste jokes and mostly justifiable outrage, to hear friends and acquaintances offer a “sorry, man” over the past few days. I’m not even looking for understanding, exactly. I’m asking the question, because I really don’t know the answer. For roughly half my life, a huge part of my identity has been tied to an institution and what it claims to represent. What do I do now that Penn State, in the public eye, represents administrators covering for a pedophile?

I realize that this might sound absurd. I’ve tried explaining it to friends with no connection to the university, and they don’t get it. Reading this, you might not get it either. But I’ve talked to other alums, particularly those who live in or near State College, and many of us feel the same. We feel sad, and angry, and almost physically disoriented.

If you live here, it’s hard for your life not to revolve around the university; it’s a small, isolated college town. It’s impossible to live here and not to be affected by whatever’s going on at Penn State. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. Now, we can’t imagine anything worse.

It could have happened in Tuscaloosa, or Norman, or South Bend. But it didn’t. It happened here.


The basketball team opened its season Saturday with an exhibition, and I took my kids. Other times it’s field hockey or volleyball. And six or seven Saturdays every fall, of course, it’s football. When you have young kids in a town like this, it’s what you do. You go to the games and root for the Nittany Lions. The winning and losing aren’t all that serious, at least not when you’re my kids’ ages. Often, the games are just background, another safe place to run around and eat junk food and maybe occasionally ask dad who’s winning the game.

My kids didn’t know any different this weekend. I’m glad for that. They’re all that matter. I’m a father and a husband before I’m an alumnus. I’m a man before I’m a fan of a football team. What happened here didn’t happen to me or my family, not really. In that sense, maybe it should be enough for me to be sad and angry about what allegedly happened to someone else’s kids. And I am. Believe me.

But I can’t separate it from my own experience. I don’t think anyone could. I leave it to the psychologists and sociologists to tell me why.


This Saturday, Penn State hosts Nebraska in its last regular season home football game. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 12 and control their destiny for a place in the first-ever Big Ten title game. Under any other circumstance, five days out, I’d already be buzzing about the game. I live for my family, but after that, I live for days like this.

I’ll be at the game Saturday. I’m sure I’ll cheer, because none of what’s alleged to have happened here has anything to do with the kids on this team. Our venerable head coach is going to be up in the press box, nursing his bum hip, and I think I’m glad about that. Certainly I’ll be glad not to be home watching on TV, where the coverage won’t be able to ignore the cloud looming over the stadium, and the campus, and this town.


I’m not sure how I’ll react when the cheer starts. The origin of the “We Are…” chant is hazy, claimed by other schools as well as Penn State. None of those schools can pull it off like we do, though, not with nearly 110,000 chanting it before kickoff of a big game. It starts on the east side of the stadium: “We are…” And the west side answers: “Penn State!”

Well, we still are. If only we had the slightest idea what that means.


The GMP on Penn State:

Paterno and Pedestals, Julie Gillis

When the Game Becomes Religion, Gary Percesepe

Male Lust Arrives in Happy Valley, Tom Matlack

Destroying a Young Boy’s Soul, Ken Solin

Power Is at the Core of Sexual Harassment, Mervyn Kaufman

The Tragic Lionization of Joe Paterno, Tom Ley

Men, Monsters, and the Media, Nicole Johnson

Loyalty and Responsibility at Penn State, Andrew Smiler

Jerry Sandusky and Penn State: A Familiar Story, Sophia Sadinsky

Beware the Legacy You Are Protecting: Winning Isn’t Everything, Eli Kaplan

Institutional Injustice: Why Rooting For Universities Breeds Immorality, Aaron Gordon

I Failed, Rick Morris

Sandusky-ed, Tim Green


—Photo shidairyproduct/Flickr

About the Editors

We're all in this together.


  1. I’ve never had much use for basing a lot of my happiness on group ID.
    I’ve tried it. I went to college, pledged a fraternity, and later, joined the Army. It should say something about my personality that a year after I got my honoroable discharge, I returned to college to study fine arts and social studies.
    I will not disparage those who get a sense of happiness from identifying as a member of a group that wears t-shirts printed with big letters. I’m a member of a group, too. Granted the dynamic is a little different from those mentioned above because I’m a Star Trek, science fiction nerd. Think ‘Big Bang Theory.’ Our t-shits have superhero logos. See, different.
    The terrible thing about the Penn State Incident is that it was more important to protect the reputation of the university and it’s athletic dept. than it was to protect the safety of a child. And, I know, it has happened in the military, churches, etc. I’m not picking on Penn State, in particular.
    A couple of years ago, a female minor was inappropriately touched at my own church by a long-time, fiancially-supportive, member of the church. In fact, he dealt with kids as a regular part of his volunter work at the church. One of the mucky-mucks.
    She was brave. She told her parents hours later the same day. They called the pastor. He immediately called the police. The police were questioning perpetrator the SAME day.
    If a group is trying to protect a reputation, how about one like this?
    Finally, I do take my spiritually life seriously. I’m not one to advocate violence. But, if I had come accross this incident in the showers, I would’ve beaten the SHIT out of him. I would’ve hit him so hard, that everytime he even thought about molesting a child, he would associate those feelings with pain. And that boy, he would know, there are adults who WILL protect him. I’ll erepent of the violence leater.
    I don’t understand how that coach didn’t do anything immediately. I never will.
    Y’all be well.

  2. How sad that this professor does not have the decency to use good language and writes using foul language- nice role model. Hmmm no wonder he wants to protect his tenure…..Not the kind of teacher I wuld like for my children. I wish more people wherever they are would grow up, act like ladies and gentlemen and serve others. the kind of nonsense going on at colleges is appalling. Nothing but dens of inequity with all the excessive drinking, drugs and casual sex, it’s awonder they even pass their exams.

    Dear Professor-have some class and clean up your act.

  3. You are STILL Penn State. What that means will be determined by actions taken now. Those who were involved or knew of involvement in these horrible deeds must be separated from your institution quickly and a full admission of all guilt must occur. Only then can forgiveness and restoration of reputation begin. The most important thing to occur is the healing of the young people who were harmed. Accepting their horror and offering help are imperative to their well being. To deny the actions and willful neglect to stop the criminal acts is simply repeating the mistakes committed by those who did not act when they could have prevented much of the current damage.
    Those of us here in Alabama have always respected Penn State and our hearts are breaking over this situation. We know this is not going to be condoned by upstanding Penn State faithful and you will do what is necessary to carry on your great tradition. There is so much pain and disappointment there, we sympathize and pray for all involved.

  4. As a PSU alum, I’m glad to read this. “I’m a man before I’m a fan of a football team” particularly sticks out.
    This sad situation will bring awareness to all of the silent people who haven’t spoken up FOR THE KIDS because of fear or whatever obstructive emotion prevents it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Let’s not forget all those really terrible college football teams that Penn State has played over the decades. All those crappy programs that gave their schools no glory at all but who helped Penn State on its way to so many winning seasons and helped forge such a strong identity. All those other schools who essentially subsidized the gridiron glory of the really good teams. Let’s give a hand to all those who wasted so many resources in those other schools in the conference that made PSU victories possible. You know who you are. Good job. Was it worth it?

    • Really? Those schools make a lot of money for playing Penn State – $ that goes back to each respective university. They also get TV exposure they wouldn’t otherwise get. They are not playing PSU out of the goodness of their heart.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    First of all, these crimes and the cover-up are currently still alleged, not proven in a court of law. I am not defending anyone or saying no crimes happened. I’m just saying that those accused are legally innocent until proven guilty. Even people accused of sexual abuse of children, hard as that may be to accept. I say this as someone who has no love of big-time college sports, as someone who has never really understood that whole tribal “school spirit” thing.

    I won’t challenge the idea that the Penn State football program has contributed a lot of positive things to the university and the community.There are plenty of facts to support that case. I’m even willing to ignore for the moment the question of the bad things that the football program has contributed.

    I have a bigger question, hard to answer maybe but still a good one: Is having a big-time football program the BEST way to achieve those good things? Or, is it just the way that it’s been for so long that no one remembers any other way to do it? One can’t just end discussion by pointing to all the good things, because you have to look at the good things relative to: 1) the costs and sacrifices of doing it this way and 2) what the alternatives are. For example, one could compare the financial cost to the school, community, state, etc., of running the athletics programs compared to what the program gives back.

  7. Danielle King says:

    WE ARE….an alumni group more than 161,000 strong
    WE ARE… the 44,000 employees that try every day to live their life with honor
    WE ARE…the graduates with more than 665,000 degrees earned since 1861
    WE ARE…. the 15,000 student volunteers and 700 dancers at THON
    WE ARE…the students who have earned over $78,000,000 “For the Kids”
    WE ARE…the fans that wore orange/maroon to a blue/white game to help see Virginia Tech through its darkest day
    WE ARE…20 campuses full of intelligent, dignified students

  8. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I feel. Stunned. Disappointed. Angry. Mostly sad.
    I’ve lost something. But I’m not sure what.
    H PSU 1981

  9. PS ABBA member says:

    The title of this article could more appropriately have been “We WERE!….”
    It’s over folks. The head coach has lost all his marbles.
    What exactly was he told, and if it wasn’t in detail, why did he not ask for the details?
    And if it WAS in detail, why did he not take the appropriate measures?
    Did he have #409 in his mind the whole time he was hoping this would get swept under the carpet?
    If so, then in the same two week time frame, he has achieved the winningest coach ever, AND the biggest loser to ever be coach, if in fact he helped to cover this up. A legacy gone to hell.
    This whole story is a major sign of the times.
    Right is wrong and wrong is right.
    I’m disheartened, embarrassed, sad, and angry.
    I’m heartbroken beyond words.
    The author remains anonymous because he is up for tenure. I hope his academic papers are graded for grammar, because his lack of grammatical skills alone should prevent tenure from being granted.

  10. A Penn State Student says:

    Get over yourself. This is pathetic. After all this, you still refer to Paterno as “venerable”?

    Here’s what the “psychologists and sociologists” would say: When a fanatical group idolizes a person and that individual is found to be morally corrupt, the positive morality of the person in question must be maintained at all costs lest the group share in his corruptness.

    You uncritically and unquestionably worshiped the institution with a fascist zeal and now that crimes have surfaced you feel cheated?

    “it’s been nice, among the poor-taste jokes and mostly justifiable outrage, to hear friends and acquaintances offer a “sorry, man” over the past few days.”

    Yes, we should feel sorry and apologize to those who worshiped Penn State unquestionably with a fascist commitment to institutional identity for the actions of their leaders.

    It’s this very culture that allowed such crimes to be covered up. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    A wealthy, fascist, conservative student population that preaches homogenization over dissent and a religion of the institution let its millionaire stewards hide years of child rape–unsurprising.

    Your need to belong is not universal. Don’t begin by making it seem as if everyone at this university shares in it.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Really? I think it is okay to love and respect an institution whether for sports or any other reason. I love Boston. Does that mean it hurts when my fellow Boston citizens do something stupid, criminal, or otherwise destructive? Sure it does. But it doesn’t diminish my love for my home town.

      • A Penn State Student says:

        We’re not talking about love here. We’re talking about fanaticism.
        “But my connection to this university, and the extent to which my identity is tied up with it, goes much further than being a season ticket holder at Beaver Stadium.”
        “So who, or what, do I belong to now?”
        “It’s been nice, among the poor-taste jokes and mostly justifiable outrage, to hear friends and acquaintances offer a “sorry, man” over the past few days.”
        He even enjoys being apologized to over it.

    • @ A Penn State Student :
      get over yourself. A lot of people identify with university and the good is done for them and others.Obviously you skimmed the article and just spouted of crap, ignoring the authors entire point. Just because you are a misanthrope loner who spends the day alone in his dorm doesn’t not mean you have to troll this site to bash the column.I am glad you got to call everyone “fascists”, as it probably the big word you learned in fresh. social studies…well done. Now please leave the adults to discuss important matters while you occupy mom’s basement.

    • A Penn State Alum says:

      “Facsist zeal”? What part of having pride in an institution who’s reputation is wholly embedded in “Success with Honor” is a) wrong, and b) in ANY way related to a fascist regime? “A wealthy, fascist, conservative student population”? I went to Penn State, not sure you really do.

      This is a very complex matter and everyone is entitled to interpret their own feelings about how they relate their affiliation and support for the institution versus their own personal moral creed. It sounds as if you are expressing your own feelings of betrayal for YOUR interpretation of an institution in which you once held supreme faith.

      If you are embarrassed by it and want to distance yourself from the institution that is certainly your right, just as it is the author’s right to express their point of view. However, your comments not only reflect your immaturity, but make you sound like a hater that wants to side solely with intellectual snobbery.

      • A Penn State Student says:

        It’s not complex, people who would promote a homogenization of views and a “We are.. Penn State,” religion of the institution shield people like Schultz and Paterno from ever suffering an air of moral incertitude in regards to crimes like this. The very shared group mentality that the author so desperately wanted to belong is crumbly before him and merely illustrates the flawed mechanics of such an approach.

        • A Penn State Alum says:

          Do you even know the origins of the “We Are…” cheer? Penn State had a black RB by the name of Wally Triplett. Penn State was invited to play in the ’48 Cotton Bowl, but only on the condition of a meeting to exclude Tripplett as an African-American. PSU’s captain responded “We are Penn State. There will be no meeting.” Wally was the first AA to play in the Cotton Bowl. The tradition was born. A tradition and legacy any Penn Stater should take pride in.

          Like any institution, those at the top abused its powers and tried to protect it. Did it run counter to the ideals of the institution? Yes. Does it tarnish the legacy a bit? Yes. Does it undo the good of the institution that has served for the betterment of the community and lives of countless students over decades? Resoundingly no.

  11. A great piece. As a huge college football fan (California Golden Bear), a progressive, a college professor and a feminist, I’ve always struggled to reconcile my love for the sport with the toxic brew of entitlement,off-field violence, academic fraud and the never-ending series of cover-ups that always seems to surround big-time (and even not-so-big-time) football. It’s as if being a fan involves a kind of willing suspension of disbelief and common sense, to believe that these really are students like all other students out there under the lights. (Some football players ARE academically successful. So many, in my experience as a professor — and a former athletic tutor at UCLA — aren’t.)

    But that pomp and pageantry — it’s magic in the real sense of the word; it wipes away my suspicions every time I walk into Memorial Stadium. And our reverence for coaches and players, which is real and powerful, makes us all at least partly complicit in creating the sense of entitlement that the predators among them possess.

  12. Dave Nelson says:

    I hear ya, man. It’s so frustrating to be part of something big and noble like a university but whose members secretly or openly engage in criminal behavior–or that which is legal but which is unethical. For me at the University of Oregon, home of Nike, it was the University’s unwillingness to join the Workers Rights Consortium, an international body to ensure fairly and humanely made products bearing our University logo. Our University makes INCREDIBLE sums of money from Football, just like yours, and couldn’t find it within their hearts or coffers to give up a small percentage of that money to ensure justice and sustainability in the products emblazoned with the Oregon Duck and U of O.

    Really raises the question about what a public university can do, and for what purposes it really, truly exists. We were unable to hold our beloved alma mater to higher account– I wish you the best of luck in reestablishing honor and ethics to yours.

    Dave Nelson

  13. What breaks my heart is that the administration seems to have had so much more concern and compassion for the man committing the abuse, and the effect it would have on HIS life were it known what he had done–not to mention the effect it might have on the reputation of Penn State–than it did for that poor child. Even if he was the only one being abused by this man, he deserved somebody who cared about HIM.

    Now, the story is out, and the administration and the university only look worse for not having contacted the police and reported what happened.

    It really is true, isn’t it…it’s not always the crime that gets you, it’s the coverup.

  14. thanks for this and your comment Tom. There is culpability all around and it’s becoming clear where that lies after the abuse was reported the first time. But let’s focus on the allegations dating back to 1998… and probably ‘warning signs’ before that, to see how this tragedy can help us prevent abuse in the future. Remember, reporting abuse doesn’t solve the problem; by then it’s too late. And, reporting does nothing about the 90% of child sex abuse cases that are NEVER reported. There is no typical profile of someone who sexually abuses children (FAQ here: http://www.stopitnow.org/faq_sex_offender_profile), which is partly what stops us from seeing abuse in the first place (FAQ here: http://www.stopitnow.org/node/2190). The intelligent readers here can connect the dots about some of root causes about why our society still sees reporting after the fact and expecting children to defend themselves as “prevention.” Until we face reality about who abuses, the diverse reasons why – how will we ever recognize it and confront it in way that keep children safe in the first place? Informed conversations and more safe places to go with real questions and concerns that don’t rise to the level of ‘proof’ are both steps toward greater safety for children. If you want to get informed and find out what every adult and parent should know and can do in daily life to protect kids and find help for everyone involved, please visit us at StopItNow.org.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks for weighing in here Jim, my pal from so many moons ago. Really appreciate it. And you are spot on. StopItNow is a great resource and your ponts about the 90% that are never reported is the real issue here.

  15. Tom Matlack says:

    Thank you for this. Having become close to several victims of abuse in the Catholic Church here in Boston I think it crucial that we all talk openly about the pain of lost trust that this pattern of behavior causes, whether in a Church or a cherished University. I have watched some of the news, but not enough to really know what happened. But from what I saw my main question is if this was witnessed and reported some years ago in the shower, how can it possibly be the case that it was allowed to continue? Even if the coaching staff felt it wasn’t there problem because the perpetrator had retired, wouldn’t they have a moral obligation to see to it that something was done? That to me is the crushing blow. That no one put a stop to save the kids that were abused AFTER the perpetrator was caught the first time. I realize this is based on news reports that have yet to be vetted by the legal system.

    • Marcus Williams says:

      I’m completely guessing, but my hunch is that in many cases, the people who report or deal with the initial situation desperately want to stop the behavior, more so than trigger criminal consequences for what already happened, especially if they have personal ties with the offender that makes them feel conflicted about punishing him. With that mindset, and no new reports of fresh crimes, it’s all too easy to believe that it’s not happening any more, because they want to believe it. I assume it’s true of the Catholic Church transferring pedophile priests from parish to parish, convinced that faith and prayers will be enough to stop it in new surroundings, and can imagine a university administrator feeling something similar, that hopefully it’s an isolated incident they’ve put an end to, and the full horror isn’t revealed until much too late. I bet the graduate assistant who made the initial report to administrators feels terrible for not following up more, but at the time, he did what he felt he was supposed to do and I think most people in that position would then consider it dealt with. A busted offender is motivated to be more careful, so the full horror of what they continued to do comes as a shock to people who thought they’d solved the problem.

      • Marcus’ guess was spot on – and applies to families beyond the penn state ‘family’. In our families and communities, where most abuse occurs, “…the people who report or deal with the initial situation desperately want to stop the behavior, more so than trigger criminal consequences … especially if they have personal ties with the offender that makes them feel conflicted about punishing him…” Most adults that call our Helpline (nearly all women) with questions or concerns about the possible/actual sexual abuse of a child know both the child and abuser. “Conflicted” doesn’t do justice to the real, negative consequences facing the family, child, and ‘non-offending parent, relative or ‘bystander’ who has to figure out what to do in the face fo their concerns by speaking out, reporting or doing nothing. Given the options, it’s not a surprise that 90% of child sexual abuse is never reported. Reporting to the criminal justice and child protection systems as they exist now doesn’t even always get the abuse to stop… Only a fraction of the 10% of child sexual abuse that is reported is ever confirmed, charged or convicted.

      • “The law is reason, free from passion”. – Aristotle

        I detect a rationalization of certain people’s attitudes and conduct. That is why PSU has very clear policy from 2001 – to remove passion and instill reason – and that policy was to be followed. It was Mandatory. The clearly stated policy and employee obligations under state and federal law were not followed.

        PSU’s Policies are public documents – and easy to find. They are filled with valid information, sources of advice and support for PSU employees, and they all display expertise built from hard experience of dealing with reality. Realities that so many have never encountered. The policies even direct employees to sources of advice and support. The Policies even make it clear that all employees are to be aware of them and to follow them.

        The policy is built upon expertise – people’s wishful thinking is never expert, and all too often subject to passion over reason.

        Ghandi said that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Plucking out both of your own eye’s, to be willfully blind, will not blind the world. It will only make you confused when the world looks at you and asks why you did it! “I thought it was a good idea at the time”, will just leave many shaking their heads.

        “…he did what he felt he was supposed to do…”

        Policy and The Law is unfeeling for a reason. “Felt” is a misplaced excuse. It’s irrational.

        Moral fiber is the capacity to do what is right, no matter what the circumstance.

        For some reason a group decided to ignore both Policy and Law, and now we all see just how Passions can override Reason. The Policy was there to protect everyone from any person who’s passions were unreasonable. They were there to protect all of PSU, all people who entered the place.

        If some had done as they were supposed to have done, there would have been fall out, but not Nuclear Fallout. Damage was inevitable, but some have caused more damage than necessary because they followed passion and not reason.

        That is not just damage to PSU, but to those who were abandoned to the passions of a person that rationally and reasonably should have been stopped.

        PSU has for a long time been Paterno’s Sports University. It was a joke that reflected passions!

        Now all concerned will have to consider how to make it Penn State University in reality, and not just in name. It’s the only reasonable and rational course of action.

    • A Penn State Student says:

      Why on Earth would you thank the guy who wrote this?
      You’re mentioning the Catholic Church, right?
      You’re saying that the coaching staff had a “moral obligation” to report the crime, right?
      The guy who wrote this referred to one specific member of the coaching staff, Joe Paterno, as “venerable.”
      Do you know what “venerable” means? It’s a person in the Roman Catholic church who has achieved a degree of sanctity but who has not been fully beatified or canonized.
      He is literally calling a member of the coaching staff “holy” and acknowledging that he was aware of the crimes all in the same breath. This article is the work of a fanatic, someone who is blinded by his own unquestioning devotion to an institution and a man through worship so much that he feels his own character has been affected by the injuries to his idols. This is insanity!

      • venerated can also mean- to regard with respect or admiring deference. Common usage differs from the Religious. Joe Pa, before this scandal, was widely referred to as “venerable.”

        I read this article and got the sense of a person who feels betrayed, lost and angry about what happened.

    • Tom, the alleged abuse was never reported. The graduate assistant who witnessed the act told an official, but none one actually called the police or even tried to find out who the boy was.

      As for why people allowed this to go on, go back and read the accomplishments the author mentioned in his article. With that kind of notoriety, fame, and money, it benefits some of the people in charge to allow a person who makes the school look good to allegedly abuse boys.


  1. […] only heard about it wednesday (tuesday?) night after having read this piece on the good men project, written by an alumnus professor. as media coverage proliferated, i felt sad; angered and […]

  2. […] was proud of our story “We Are?” by a Penn State professor heartbroken by the first shot across the bow of his fabled sports […]

  3. […] abuses come to light to the public. An anonymous writer described this beautifully in his piece “WeAre?”: We are represented, too, by the university, in everything that word implies. Mostly, at a […]

  4. […] A Penn State professor has a say: „Our football coach has donated millions back to the university and helped raise untold millions more, doubling the size of the library and helping fund scholarships that have enabled countless kids to attend Penn State. And as far as the NCAA is concerned, our athletic department has still never been caught „cheating,” something the hopeful among us (there are fewer today, certainly) would like to believe is because we don’t cheat. Our athletes graduate at a higher rate than at almost any other major public university. In many undeniable ways, this place has and will continue to contribute a lot of good to the world. Somehow I doubt anyone will remember that anytime soon.” [Good Men Project] […]

  5. […] Update: Here is what it feels like to be a part of Penn State right now. […]

  6. […] Here’s an anonymous piece from a Penn State professor with a great take on how one man’s actions affected an entire community – The Good Men Project […]

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