CrisisManagementUnit1 - 1 Jerry Sandusky was a part of the...

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1) Jerry Sandusky was a part of the football coaching staff at Penn State University from 1969 through 1999, although he had access to the campus even after his retirement as an emeritus professor (Crandall, Parnell, & Spillan, 2013). As a highly respected member of both the college and society thanks to his coaching career and his work with disadvantaged youth through his charity The Second Mile, the sudden child rape allegations that came to light in 2010 shook the college and the public to the core. What was even more appalling was that the crisis was much deeper than it initially appeared, and had been occurring behind closed doors since 1998. Unfortunately, the tragedy does not end there. It appears that many knew of Sandusky’s dark side, and kept it quiet for years. Not only that, some of those knowledgeable about his lewd activities were very powerful people at Penn State. According to an examination of emails and meeting notes, President Spanier, Senior Vice-President of Finance and Business Schultz, Athletic Director Curley, and the Head Football Coach himself, Joseph Paterno, were all aware of previous allegations and did nothing. Additionally, previous investigations into Sandusky were done internally without the board of trustees, and merely resulted in verbal warnings with no real punishment. The fallout from these actions coming to light was huge (Crandall et al., 2013). Many felt that the school should be punished for not taking action and protecting the many victims. On the other side of the scandal, many felt that authorities were too harsh when allegations were made. Ultimately, the NCAA and the Board of Trustees had to take action. The NCAA sanctions were harsh, and included stripping the football program of any wins for the past 14 years, banning post-season games for 4 years, and slicing scholarships beginning in 2013. The Board of Trustees was equally shocked, and punishment was swift. The board immediately removed head coach Paterno and President Spanier from their positions. The other members that were aware of the underage rape both stepped down from their positions. Newly appointed interim president Erickson took the punishment a step further, and ordered the removal of Paterno’s legendary statue from the campus, an act that he hoped would promote healing. Sandusky himself did not receive any form of punishment until 2012 when he was charged with 45 counts of child sex abuse. The key issues in this case are numerous, but ultimately are ethics related. First and foremost, the school either did not have a crisis management plan in place, or chose not to follow protocol. While not every crisis can be planned for, it is important to have steps in place to deal with crises that could affect the school’s reputation. The main issue after that was that at least four powerful people at the school seemingly condoned the behavior and kept the acts secret (Crandall et al., 2013). They chose to turn a blind eye and not punish Sandusky, out of either shock or the need to preserve the integrity of themselves or the school. In doing so, they did not
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