Penn St. acting AD promises change
The new leader of Penn State athletics promised change Friday for a department in turmoil after former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15-year span.
David Joyner was formally introduced Friday as the school’s acting athletic director. The Penn State graduate, who played offensive line from 1969-1971 under ousted Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, said he will make sure that the ”core values” of the school’s sports programs are aligned with the university’s academic side.
Joyner takes over a job held until last week by Tim Curley. Curley was charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to pass on a 2002 abuse report to police that allegedly occurred at the football building. Lawyers for Sandusky and Curley have maintained their clients’ innocence.
”I’m sure there will be change,” Joyner said. ”There’s always change when you come in and have a new process.”
Curley is on paid administrative leave. Whether the size or power of the athletic department had a hand in the scandal, Joyner said, will become clearer as both criminal and internal investigations unfold.
”I’m just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone in the past, we’re going to go forward in the athletic department with my view … that this is an academic unit,” Joyner said. ”Now if we’ve lost some of that luster because of things that have happened, I can tell you that I’ve never lost that core value, and this athletic department will reflect that core value.”
Wearing a blue ribbon on his lapel to signify support for victims of child abuse, Joyner’s introduction took place at an auditorium near the Old Main administration building. It was an unusual location for an athletics event at a school which typically makes major sports announcements at Beaver Stadium or the Jordan Center.
”I’m sorry I’m here for this reason,” Joyner said in opening up his 25-minute news conference. ”And first and foremost, I want to tell you how sad I am for the victims in this case.”
Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I history with 409 victories was fired in the aftermath of Sandusky’s arrest and replaced by defensive coordinator Tom Bradley on an interim basis. Joyner was a member of a board of trustees that unanimously approved Paterno’s dismissal roughly 12 hours after the iconic coach had announced he would retire at the end of the season.
Mounting questions about whether school leaders should have done more about allegations against Sandusky led to the dismissal, though Joyner sidestepped a question about whether he felt his old coach should have acted differently and referred to the board’s unanimous decision.
Joyner has since suspended his position on the board to take on his new duties.
”We made a decision based on what the circumstances were at this time,” Joyner said about Paterno’s firing. ”We felt that decision was in the best interest of all parties involved.”
Allegations about Sandusky dated back to 1994, according to a 23-page grand jury report which included the 2002 allegation. According to the report, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary testified that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the football showers, and told Paterno, who then passed on the report to Curley.
McQueary then spoke to Curley and a university vice president who oversaw the campus police department, the grand jury report said, but the allegation was not passed on to police.
Now the receivers coach, McQueary remains on administrative leave.
Joyner was a starting offensive tackle and co-captain on the 1971 team that finished 11-1 and beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. He also wrestled for three seasons at Penn State, including an NCAA runner-up finish at the heavyweight division in his junior year in 1971.
Joyner’s sons Andy (1993-94) and Matt (1996-98) also played football under Paterno.
But the new athletic director said his deep Penn State roots won’t affect his decision-making. He said he told his staff Thursday ”I’m here to do the right thing.”
There was no timetable on finding a permanent replacement for Paterno. Joyner didn’t rule out Bradley as a potential candidate, saying all applicants would be considered.
Joyner earned a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree in the 1970s from Penn State. He has also worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee extensively, serving as head physician to U.S. teams at the 1992 Winter Olympics, chairman of the sports medicine committee and vice chair of the anti-doping committee.
Penn State plans to continue play the rest of its football schedule, starting with Saturday’s game at Ohio State. The Nittany Lions could play as many as four more games, including the inaugural Big Ten title game and a bowl bid.
The Rose Bowl on Thursday said Penn State would be free to take the Big Ten’s automatic berth to that lucrative Bowl Championship Series game should the Nittany Lions win the conference.
”I understand people’s feelings. This is a terrible time for victims and everybody else,” Joyner said about talk of the school sitting out the rest of the season. ”We can move forward very respectfully, continue the season and show people how to do it the right way.”