November 9, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Unhappy Valley

Penn State is Back in the Spotlight, For the Wrong Reasons

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Just-fired Penn State president Graham Spanier, riding a zamboni during a club game, following the announcement that the school would start a varsity program.

Just-fired Penn State president Graham Spanier, riding a zamboni during a club game, following the announcement that the school would start a varsity program.

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To answer the question right off the bat — What does the current Penn State scandal mean for college hockey? — probably nothing.

There has been no indication that the plans for Penn State to start a varsity hockey program next season will be affected by the scandal that's rocked Happy Valley. And as disgusting as the situation is, and as disgusted as I'm sure the program's benefactors are, I would expect things to go on as planned.

Of course, if we've learned nothing else from this week's events, you never know.

Sorry to be exploiting the Penn State fiasco for what you could say is a vague tie-in to college hockey. But I believe it is worth asking the questions:

Would Terry Pegula have given up his $88 million to the university, to kick start a new hockey program, if he was making that decision today?

Would former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky have considered going to Penn State a dream situation if it were today?

When Pegula was introduced as the benefactor, he stood with Tim Curley and Graham Spanier, the now-disgraced Penn State athletic director and president, and spoke with them in glowing terms about the Penn State "family."

When Gadowsky was hired, he said, "The university itself, the athletics program, it's an excellent academic institution with the reptuation of doing things right. Not just big, but right. Every time you hear about Penn State in the news, it's for good things. To be part of that is incredibly attractive."

I repeat this not to embarrass Gadowsky (or Pegula). He had no way of knowing, at the time, what was brewing. I am saying this because I feel bad now for Gadowsky; that he was led to believe those words; that he's now in a messy situation, at a school with no athletic director and no president; that he's in an environment that's — at least temporarily — polar opposite of what he thought. It must be a sickening feeling.

Meanwhile, could Pegula conceivably pull his donation to the university? They're almost ready to break ground on a new arena that will bear his name.

I doubt that will happen. The ice hockey program, that doesn't even exist yet, has nothing to do with any aspect of the scandal. But Pegula could pull his money out of disgust or as a public relations move.

Again, I don't think he will. The university should be bigger than the individuals, even if Joe Paterno has long been considered the whole school and town. And pulling the plug on hockey just puts further hurt on innocent people.

But think, for a second, what the ramifications of that would be. The creation of Penn State's program set off a chain reaction that culminated in the complete re-organization of college hockey. Seventeen of the 58 schools announced conference affiliation changes.

What the heck would happen if Penn State no longer had a program to start?

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