Penn State Scandal - Human Behavior

Topics: Penn State Nittany Lions football, Pennsylvania State University, Joe Paterno Pages: 10 (3496 words) Published: July 5, 2013
Case Study
“Penn State Scandal – From A Human Behavior Perspective” Elisa-Ruth Nelson
Southern New Hampshire University

November 5, 2011, Pennsylvania grand jury indicted former Penn State assistant coach Gerald Sandusky, accusing him of sexually assaulting young boys. On June 22, 2012, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of 48 child sex abuse charges. Nearly four months later, (October 9, 2012) Sandusky received a 30 – 60 year sentence. This scandal eventually forced further investigations into whether or not Penn State officials neglected to act when individuals reported Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior with young boys. It also tainted a highly revered university and led to the firing of its college coach along with other university top officials. This case study will analyze how according to former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report the most “powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children Sandusky victimized” and “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims” until after he was arrested. Specifically, I will focus on possible motivations that led to the leadership’s inactions; how the organizational culture of Penn State’s football program impacted leadership’s poor decision making prior to and during this scandal, and the abuse of power in order to preserve success and safeguard the university’s illustrious reputation. Finally, I will present plausible solutions, as a “way ahead” to ensure this type of situation does not happen in the future and promote a renewed positive culture change. Major Players

According to the outcome of an internal review led by Louis Freeh, former FBI director, the most powerful leaders at Penn State showed “total and consistent disregard” for child sex abuse victims and covered up the attacks of sexual predator Jerry Sandusky. Penn State President Graham Spanier, Vice President of Business and Finance Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curley are awaiting trial for perjury and obstruction of justice charges in what a grand jury called a “conspiracy of silence” to cover up Sandusky’s crimes. All three men have pleaded not guilty (Reuters, 2013). Spanier’s charges are perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to properly report suspected abuse and conspiracy (Boren). Curley and Schultz are charged with perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction and conspiracy. Motivators

Who influenced their decisions to not alert/report to the proper authorities accusations of Sandusky’s transgressions? Allegedly, these school officials were aware of Sandusky’s inappropriate behavior stemming as far back as and before 1998. Maybe the question should be how did these leaders fail to use their influences to protect children? In the case of Graham Spanier, did his status, exorbitant salary and the insular culture that existed contribute to how he allegedly “overlooked” and empowered Sandusky’s misconduct? November 2012, Trinity Washington University’s President, Patricia McGuire wrote in an article that “treating the college president as a minor potentate is dangerous” (McGuire, 2012). Lavish perks such as beautiful and sprawling homes and club memberships may inflate a president’s ego. Will those extras and privileges sustain him/her through ethical challenges? A leader has a tremendous responsibility, and his/her actions do make a difference to the organization, workforce and culture. Although the three officials mentioned earlier have not stood trial, their decisions have impacted many and have brought to light the importance of effective and ethical leadership in all types of organizations. Impact of Power

In November 2011 head coach, Joe Paterno was fired and subsequently died on January 22, 2012. Paterno, up until the Sandusky scandal broke, had a sterling reputation as a college football coach. Ian Hanford...

References: Reuters. (2013, May 12). Graham Spanier, Ousted in Scandal, is Highest Paid Public College Chief. Retrieved from
Boren, C
McGuire, P. (2012, November 06). A Shadow Across the Soul of the University. Retrieved from
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Wolverton, B. (2012, July 05). Paterno 's E-mail Shows Coach 's Influence on Disciplinary Matters. Retrieved from
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Grasgreen, A. (2012, July 13). Culture of Complacency. Retrieved from
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