Curley takes absence, Schultz steps down at Penn State

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For those demanding a thorough house-cleaning at Penn State following one of the hardest-hitting scandals to rock college athletics in years, the process has begun.

The Associated Press has reported that Penn State athletic director Tim Curley (pictured, right) and vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz  have stepped down amid disturbing allegations of sexual abuse of minors involving former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. 

University President Graham Spanier said late Sunday night that he had received a request from Curley to be placed on administrative leave while he deals with perjury charges against him and Schultz, who is re-retiring. Curley and Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor Saturday.

The news of the resignations came after an executive session of Penn State’s Board of Trustees.

Curley and Shultz were mentioned in the grand jury’s indictment of Sandusky following their apparent failure to be forthcoming about a 2002 incident in which they were notified of an instance of sexual abuse by Sandusky with a young boy. From the Patriot-News’ article:

Attorney General Linda Kelly says Curley and Schultz perjured themselves by repeatedly denying,  during the grand jury investigation, that they were told about an incident in 2002 that was reported by a graduate football assistant who walked [in] on Sandusky taking a shower with a young boy.

Kelly said, “rather than reporting the matter to law enforcement, Curley and Schultz agreed that Sandusky would be told he could not bring any Second Mile children into the football building.  That message was also reportedly related to Dr. John Raykovitz at the Second Mile (Past Executive Director and Executive Vice-President and currently the President and CEO of the Second Mile),” the statement says.”

Despite that ban, which was reviewed by Penn State President Graham Spanier, there was no change in Sandusky’s status with the school, no changes to his access to campus, and no charges were brought.

Spanier had released a statement offering his unconditional support of Curley despite the allegations. However,  Spanier was also mentioned in the grand jury’s indictment for signing off on the course of action by Curley and Schultz in response to their knowledge of an incident involving Sandusky and the young boy in a shower of the school’s football building. According to the indictment, the two administrators did not alert authorities over the matter, but rather told Sandusky he was prohibited from bringing any more children from Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity, into the football building.

Curley, Shultz and Sandusky have all claimed innocence in the case. The former two face arraignment Monday.

In a separate statement, Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the allegations. From Paterno’s statement:

“If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.”

However, Paterno was mentioned as part of the chain of communication in the allegation against Sandusky with “Victim 2” — the same incident of which Curley and Schultz were reportedly made aware. According to the allegations, a graduate assistant, who is part of Paterno’s coaching staff, informed Paterno that he witnessed an act of sexual abuse between Sandusky and a young boy. Paterno then reportedly turned that information over to Curley. Paterno did not, however, take any further action afterward — after it was known that authorities would not be brought into the situation.

Ethically, Paterno is in deep water too. Curley and Schultz are now the first ones to go in this ever-developing story. It’s hard to imagine they will be the last.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.

Transferring BYU QB Kody Wilstead finds new home at Kansas JUCO

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With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March.  A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.

According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.  As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.

Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.

After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy ConnerJoe CritchlowHayden GriffittsBeau HogeTanner MangumBaylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.