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PSU E-mails Reveal Power Struggle Over Player Discipline

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(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — E-mails dating back several years show that officials in the Penn State football program – particularly Joe Paterno – wanted to handle player discipline internally without the university’s guidance.

In 2003, Dr. Vicky Triponey was vice president of student affairs and was to oversee implementation of Penn State’s Student Code of Conduct.

But early in 2005 when her office suspended two players for shooting arrows into an off campus apartment wall, Paterno was frustrated with the handling of the incident.

That August, Triponey sent a text to then President Graham Spanier, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, in which she claimed that:

“Paterno believed she should have ‘no interest, (or business) holding our football players accountable to our community standards. The Coach is insistent he knows best how to discipline his players…and their status as a student when they commit violations of our standards should NOT be our concern…and I think he was saying we should treat football players different from other students in this regard.'” – Wall Street Journal

Later that month, Triponey sent an e-mail to three administrators, including Spanier.

“Coach Paterno would rather we NOT inform the public when a football player is found responsible for committing a serious violation of the law and/or our student code,” she wrote, “despite any moral or legal obligation to do so.” – Wall Street Journal

Eventually then-athletic director Tim Curley, now charged with perjury in the Jerry Sandusky case, communicated with Triponey that Paterno was frustrated with what he saw as interference and that it should be his call as to who played on the team.

By 2007 when as many as two dozen Penn State players were implicated in a brawl at an off campus apartment, Triponey and Paterno’s problems seemed insurmountable. She quit.

Paterno’s lawyer dismisses the reported e-mails as out of context and that Penn State’s record of producing successful athletes under Paterno’s guidance is unquestioned.

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