Evidence continues to gather indicating Sandusky cover-up

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Late last month, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts related to child-sex abuse following the scandal that broke last November. While the decision marked the beginning of the healing process for Sandusky’s victims and all those involved, suffice to say Penn State is nowhere close to being out of the woods yet.

Friday night, a CNN report detailed new emails exchanged among PSU administrators in 2001 suggesting there was a planned cover-up for Sandusky beginning 16 days after former Nittany Lions assistant coach Mike McQueary allegedly saw Sandusky in the showers of an on-campus facility with a young boy.

Though former PSU coach Joe Paterno did not send/receive any emails in the thread, athletic director Tim Curley allegedly wrote: “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” Although never mentioned by name, it’s believed Curley was talking about Sandusky.

There were other similar emails, but the bottom line is it appears that Paterno, Curley, former VP Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier all knew more about the Sandusky allegations than they initially led on.

But that’s been suspected for some time. On the day leading up to the start of Sandusky trial, NBC News reported school admins exchanged emails in 2001 claiming it would be “humane” for Sandusky not to involve authorities. A day later, a Pittsburgh-based news outlet reported Schultz had a “secret file” of allegations against Sandusky. In mid-June, a PSU trustee told the Associated Press that he suspected a cover-up by PSU officials.

Now, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports “Top Pennsylvania State University officials held a three-hour meeting to discuss Jerry Sandusky in 2001 over concerns about the former coach’s behavior with a boy in the football showers.

“A law-firm billing record from that conversation describes a ‘report of suspected child abuse,’ according to a person with knowledge of an independent investigation into the matter,” the report says.

Given the amount of information that continues to surface, it’s becoming clearer that PSU admins knew something, yet failed to report anything to child-welfare services. That’s a violation of Pennsylvania state law. Curley and Schultz are already facing perjury charges.

However, the CNN report from Friday claims Schultz initially had a plan to notify the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare about concerns over the Sandusky situation. Obviously, though, those plans were never executed as PSU admins instead reportedly planned to ask Sandusky to seek counseling — something they knew was the wrong approach.

“The only downside for us is if the message [to Sandusky] isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier reportedly said in an email.

In response to the emails, the Paterno family released a statement saying “From the beginning, Joe Paterno warned against a rush to judgment in this case. Coach Paterno testified truthfully, to the best of his recollection, in the one brief appearance he made before the grand jury.”

The CNN emails suggest otherwise, but we’ll never know what was going through Paterno’s mind, just as the thought process for Curley, Schultz and Spanier remains a mystery today.

Still, there’s one way and one way only to correctly handle an accusation of sexual abuse — this isn’t an open-ended question — and no one at Penn State handled it the right way.

In fact, you could make a strong case they blatantly handled it the wrong way. There should be no sympathy or forgiveness for that.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.

Boise State reportedly looking at replacing blue turf in 2019

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Boise State is exploring replacing their famous blue turf… with yet more blue turf.

Perhaps one of college football’s most recognized landmarks thanks to its quirky color, the school is looking at a fresh set of FieldTurf for Albertsons Stadium in a move that may come as soon as the 2018 campaign wraps up.

“We’re talking about it,” Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “It’s getting to that point to where we’re going to have to make a change. It will remain blue if anyone asks.

“It’s a lifespan more than anything. I’m going to assume that the weather here in Boise does not help the life of it. That’s a guess on my part, but when you start getting into that eight, 10, 12-year range, in the past that’s when we’ve usually made the change.”

The current stadium field was installed back in 2010 and it has gone through various replacements over the years since the very first blue turf was put in place back in 1986. The report from the Press-Tribune and Apsey’s comments certainly make this seem like it’s a done deal but at a reported cost of nearly $1 million for the new surface, it would not be a quick or cheap fix for the school.

Broncos fans can rest easy knowing that the team’s signature color will be sticking around at the very least, even if the actual field itself gets a bit of an upgrade sometime next year.

Report: Ole Miss receives Committee on Infractions’ response to school appeal

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There’s been so much back-and-forth between Ole Miss, Michigan and former quarterback Shea Patterson that you’d be forgiven thinking that the Rebels’ actual NCAA case itself was all over as far as the school was concerned. That certainly isn’t accurate of course and one of the final steps for the program to learn their fate could be set for release in the next few hours or days.

Per Jackson Clarion-Ledger Ole Miss beat writer Antonio Morales, Ole Miss has received a response on their appeal from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and will soon publish a response after lawyers have had a chance to work through it.

The Rebels had appealed to have their 2018 postseason ban overturned and restrictions on official visits lifted, among other things. The school does have 14 days to respond to the decision but appeals in general are rarely successful and the extra bit of arguing tends to be nothing but extra billable hours for lawyers working on the case.

Depending on the outcome, that should just about wrap things up in Oxford after the school was found to have lacked institutional control in the football program after numerous violations under former head coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss remains involved in the waiver appeal of former players like Patterson but this could very well be a closing of the books on a rather turbulent few years of back-and-forth with the NCAA.

Oklahoma State adding gigantic new video board to Boone Pickens Stadium

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While most folks are resigned to getting a new flat screen during the holidays or right around the Super Bowl, Oklahoma State is making their purchase this summer and upgrading the Cowboys’ viewing experience significantly at Boone Pickens Stadium as a result.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the school confirmed that the team’s already remodeled home is getting an upgraded Jumbotron that is the eighth-biggest video board at a college football stadium in the country. In addition to packing in the pixels in a full-high definition display, the new board is set to measure in at 56 feet tall by 110 feet wide and will be mounted just above the east end zone on the outside of the OSU Athletics Center that abuts the field.

“This board not only modernizes the game day experience in Boone Pickens Stadium, but it also brings Oklahoma State to the forefront in this area,” said Athletic Director Mike Holder. “We have taken input from fans and I believe that adding a premium board like this is a game-changer for all of us who attend.

Installation will begin in July and should be finalized by well ahead of fall camp with a target of August 1st for completion. Veteran manufacturer Daktronics will build the board while a local Oklahoma City firm will design the supports. The program notes that this screen will be especially bright compared to other installations by several factors in order to account for the glare of the sun hitting the board.

The entire setup will check in at just a tad bit smaller than rival Texas ‘Godzillatron’ at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium but will otherwise be one of the largest in the Big 12. Given how quickly the Cowboys tend to put up points in Mike Gundy’s offense, chances are it will get a nice workout when games start to roll around this fall in Stillwater as well.