Monday, July 23, 2012

Pasqualoni reacts to Penn State situation

For more than a month I've been waiting to sit down with UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni so we could meet and exchange some thoughts, pretty standard operating procedure when somebody takes over a new assignment. As luck would have it, that meeting was set for this morning. Naturally, one of the topics raised was Pasqualoni's thoughts about the sanctions being levied against his Penn State, his alma mater.

My interview with Pasqualoni ended about 30 minutes before the sanctions were announced but still I thought I would pass on what Pasqualoni had to say.

Pasqualoni not only played for Joe Paterno but during his final three seasons with the Nittany Lions, convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky was a defensive assistant at Penn State and was Pasqualoni’s position coach in the UConn coach’s final two seasons.

Following a report filed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh which stated that Paterno and Penn State’s culture contributed in allowing Sandusky to molest multiple children without appropriate action being taken to either stop the abuse or let authorities know of the allegations, the NCAA released its own findings in a press conference on Monday morning.

The NCAA levied a $60 million fine, has vacated 111 victories from 1998-2011, reduced the number of scholarships by 10 initially and 20 each year for a four-year period. Penn State has also been banned from postseason play for four years and was placed on probation for five years. Current Penn State players are allowed the transfer and will be able to play immediately.

“Not just for me because I am a Penn State grad and I played there but I just think, No. 1 it is such an unfortunate thing that whatever happened happened,” said Pasqualoni, who was a linebacker at Penn State from 1968-71.”(I am) thinking of those kids (molested by Sandusky) first. I have young kids, I have a 13, 12 and 10 (year old children) so I couldn't imagine living through that.”

Unlike the NCAA levying the “death penalty” on the Southern Methodist University football programs in the 1980s following a series of recruiting violations and improper benefits paid to football players, Penn State’s violations were not a result of trying to gain a competitive advantage.

“This is not (about) recruiting violations, this is not extra practices,” Pasqualoni said. “This territory that the NCAA is now getting into with Penn State is unprecedented territory. I, like everybody else, am just interested to see exactly what happens and I am curious how they will approach it.”

This was far from the only subject discussed. At some point later today I will have more from our interview.

UConn just sent out a statement from Pasqualoni on the Penn State penalties.

“As I have said in the past, Penn State is still a tremendous university – and always will be. I feel bad about this happening about my alma mater, but I would feel bad if this happened at any school. The sanctions handed down by the NCAA today are severe, but with the intent of making positive changes at the school. The report that was recently submitted to the Penn State indicates that there is evidence that major mistakes were make there and the covering up of a horrific situation.”



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