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Published on August 19th, 2013 | by EditorOne

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How Long Will it Take Until Penn State’s Reputation is Restored?

If you were thinking about attending Penn State a few years ago, you probably decided to get that degree somewhere else instead. Penn State University has a long way to go until people can say its name without feeling some manner of revulsion.

The football program’s sudden implosion in 2011 cost four men their jobs and careers while sending another to prison on 45 counts of sexual child abuse. It highlighted a history of ruined childhood from kids who met Jerry Sandusky. The firing of the school’s president, vice president, athletic director, and the head coach of the football program was a huge step in the school’s effort to move forward after the horrific scandal. The football program is limping along, trying to catch up with the rest of the school.

The Sad Scandal 
If you are unfamiliar with the scandal at Penn State, count your blessings. Many people who followed the events that led to the downfall of a proud football program wish they could forget what was discovered. Sandusky was an assistant football coach under Joe Paterno for 30 years who preyed upon young boys, and often used the showers in the locker room to trap them.

Even after he was caught in such a situation, the school’s administrators and Coach Joe Paterno turned a blind eye to the situation because the football program was so successful. Even after Sandusky retired, he was allowed free roaming of the school and football facilities, including the showers in the locker room.

Scandals at Other Schools 
A lot of schools have scandals, but generally they are associated with running the school. And, of course, other businesses have problems, as well. Working through an online business management degree always includes studying ethics and how they shape a trusted business, enterprise or institution. But you can’t prepare for everything.

SMU – Until Penn State unraveled, perhaps the most memorable scandal came in the 80s at SMU. It was discovered that players were being paid thousands of dollars to come and play at the football powerhouse. The NCAA handed down the first ever “death penalty” on a program, and SMU did not even play football for the 1987 season, or the 1988 season.

USC – In 1995, so odious was the stench surrounding star running back Reggie Bush and his dealings with agents that he became the first player to ever have to give back a Heisman Trophy award.

Miami – In 1995 it was discovered that the university was giving hundreds of thousands of dollars of government money to its athletes by applying for bogus federal grant programs.

The Future For Penn State 
While most all scandals involving colleges involve payments to athletes, nothing comes close to what took place at Penn State. SMU saw a drop in its enrollments after the sanctions handed down by the NCAA. In fact, it didn’t return to a bowl game until 2009; over twenty years after the scandal broke. Penn State is already showing a drop off in enrollment of between 9-12% – huge numbers for a major university. This counts for both their online and in-person courses, ranging from liberal arts to economics.

You can probably assume that the university stopped the majority of the bleeding by using the mass firings as a sort of tourniquet. The 12-14% drop was probably the worst of it, coming on the tail of the Sandusky scandal and trial. However, as long as Sandusky stays in the news — and he shows no signs of going away, Penn State will bear his taint, and that will continue to adversely affect the school’s ability to come back and see in its increase in its enrollment, both on-campus courses and off-campus offerings like their online business management degree program.

By firing the people involved, Penn State took a major step in restoring their reputation. However, people will always wonder how deep the tendrils of this horrid nightmare sink. Even two years out, it is impossible to say the name, “Penn State” without shuttering in revulsion. It is going to take many generations before Penn State can restore its reputation.


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