Penn State in Black and White and Blue
In 2003, Penn State hired a woman named Vicky Triponey to be its dean of student affairs, which included disciplining students for violating campus codes of behavior.
She butted heads often with Paterno and other administrators over how to handle infractions committed by members of the football team.
It's fair to say that when it came to his players, Paterno was old school, preferring to handle all discipline matters himself and mete out punishments as he saw fit. Triponey, who took her job seriously, saw a double standard between how football players were treated versus the rest of the student body. The two were destined to butt heads. And they did.
The confrontations came to a head in 2007, according to one former school official, when six football players were charged by police for forcing their way into a campus apartment that April and beating up several students, one of them severely. That September, following a tense meeting with Mr. Paterno over the case, she resigned her post, saying at the time she left because of "philosophical differences."One case involved Wallingford's very own Dan Connor, the All-American linebacker.
In a statement Monday, Dr. Triponey said: "There were numerous meetings and discussions about specific and pending student discipline cases that involved football players," which she said included "demands" to adjust the judicial process for football players. The end result, she said, was that football players were treated "more favorably than other students accused of violating the community standards as defined by the student code of conduct."
In an email to Mr. Spanier on Sept. 1, Dr. Triponey wrote of Mr. Paterno: "I do not support the way this man is running our football program. We certainly would not tolerate this behavior in our students so I struggle with how we tolerate it in our coach."The assistant coach was Joe Sarra, not Jerry Sandusky, who was also recently retired.
That same fall, Dr. Triponey's office suspended Dan Connor, a Penn State linebacker, who had been accused of making harassing calls to a retired assistant coach. Shortly after the suspension was handed down, Mr. Paterno ordered the player to suit up, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dr. Triponey informed the player that if he suited up for practice, he would be in violation of his suspension and could face expulsion. Mr. Connor says he recalled being suspended only for games, not practice.
The incident prompted Mr. Spanier to visit Dr. Triponey at her home. Dr. Triponey confirms he told her that Mr. Paterno had given him an ultimatum: Fire her, or Mr. Paterno would stop fund-raising for the school. She says Mr. Spanier told her that if forced to choose, he would choose her over the coach—but that he did not want to have to make that choice.
Later, Mr. Connor's suspension was reduced to 10 days, allowing him to return to football.
More here from USA Today.
If not for the Sandusky scandal, nobody would have given Triponey's complaints a second look. Now, every decision Paterno and Penn State ever made will be put under a microscope and interpreted in the most negative possible light.