Ousted Penn State coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier are both coming under fire today in separate articles about the culture at the university. Paterno often clashed with a former Penn State VP in charge of discipline because, she said in emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal, he appeared to want special treatment for his football players. In repeated conflicts, Paterno expressed his belief that he should be responsible for disciplining team members and deciding when they would not be allowed to play, rather than the office that typically metes out punishment to students. After a particularly tense stand-off in 2007 over how to treat six players charged with breaking into an apartment and beating up other students, the VP resigned.
As for Spanier, the New York Times talks to multiple sources who say that his administration was known for an insistence on secrecy, particularly when it came to incidents that could hurt Penn State’s reputation. In one notable incident from 2002, Paul McLaughlin says he came to officials to report that he had been molested as a boy by a Penn State professor, sometimes even on the campus—but he was turned away, even after revealing that he had a recording of the professor admitting to the alleged abuse. The university has also kept court settlements secret, including one related to a basketball coach accused of not allowing lesbians on her team, and has fought to keep other information, like salaries, secret. Says one Penn State professor, “If you’re always focused on promoting the brand and there’s no scrutiny, that leads to covering up.”