The Washington Post

Penn State community must now start to fix what went wrong

I have to swallow the fact that as of today, I have no wins as a starter for the Penn State football team. And you know what? It doesn’t matter.

The penalties handed down by the NCAA are harsh enough to bring down an entire football program. But they are not enough to bring down Penn State. Many may feel that football defined us; we know different.

Our way at Penn State is education first, and everything else after that. It’s our task as alumni to make that message clearer than ever before.

There was a failure by individuals in powerful positions at the school, and it has impacted everyone from Penn State, including those who played on its football team. We shoulder those mistakes because we must; it’s the right way. We didn’t make this mess, but we can now start to fix it.

Like it or not, Monday’s action by the NCAA against the school bring this entire fiasco a step nearer to closure.

I believe it is the duty of the Paterno family to continue to fight for Joe Paterno’s reputation. If they are successful, they will have their moment to set the record straight about why Joe should not have been judged the way he was. However, that’s a war for those who were closest to him and the situation surrounding his demise. Same goes for Graham Spanier or any other school officials that are fighting for vindication. That’s just the reality of this, nothing personal.

As for the punishment handed down Monday, my thinking has been this: Whatever the punishment, get it over with so everyone involved can close this chapter and begin the rebuilding process. A strong punishment was necessary. Otherwise I don’t think it would have been accepted by those looking on from around the country.

Now the school, students and the State College community can face the dawn of a new day. Sure it won’t be easy moving on from here, but sometimes turning away from the past is the only way to see a bright future.

As an alumnus of Penn State, I’m not turning my back on my school. I believe responsible Penn Staters believe we serve each other and our institution and that to me means always striving for excellence, having integrity, respect and dignity in our daily approaches to life. I really think it’s important that it’s understood that we acknowledge horrible things happened at our school. We do so in order to make it clear that we don’t condone these actions or blindly support our school.

Sure Joe Paterno was the catalyst in keeping us all motivated to be great Penn Staters, and it hurts to see all the failures and bad things that have happened. It’s sad to know so many suffered and now many more are suffering in the aftermath of what took place.

If Penn State is to ever have a chance at restoring its reputation it starts with one positive action at a time.

Change obviously needed to happen and from this point on I think it’s clear that the representation of Penn State falls on the ones who matter the most an entire community and student body, not a coach or a program but everyone.

Everyone won’t be perfect. People will still fall short of representing themselves and our institution the right way. Yet those who are truly committed to good will stand in there through the good and the bad.

Right now is the time for the Penn State community to stand up for its principles and beliefs and impact change so that things like this don’t happen again. It’s time to restore the pride of our school.

Please leave your comments here and chat with me on twitter @lavararrington

More from Washington Post Sports:

Penn State punishment: wins from ‘98-’11 vacated, $60 million fine

Document: Penn State’s NCAA sanctions

Joe Paterno stripped of 111 victories no longer winingest coach

Tracee Hamilton: The NCAA’s surprising move

On Leadership: Bill O’Brien’s tough road ahead

Freeh report finds ‘total disregard’ for victims

Sandusky convicted of child sex abuse



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans