Sunday, November 13, 2011

John Scalzi on Penn State, with further comments from me

John Scalzi, whom I remember from my graduate student days at Chicago when he was writing for the Chicago Maroon, has a pointed and spot-on take on Penn State athletics.

I will say that once the senior administration at Penn State caught up with what was going on, they have been following the book exactly, most likely because they hired expensive and sharp organizational disaster consultants who are telling them what to do. The key to handling  these things right is, to the greatest extent possible, to take the full hit right away, so that things do not drag out and the "healing" begins almost immediately. And, indeed, if you look on Yahoo you can find stories from sports writers about the healing beginning already, just a few days after the big hit of firing coach Joe Paterno and the less big hit of firing whomever it was who was president of the university. Look as well for quick, out-of-court settlements to avoid drawn out court battles that would generate lots of bad publicity.

Indeed, even the game yesterday went exactly how the administration would have wanted it: a prayer session (separation of church and state, anyone?) before the opening kickoff with players from both teams had the desired effect on the ESPN announcers and then the Penn State football team came close to winning, thus demonstrating the players' devotion to the school and program, but  did not actually win, which would have been a bit offensive given all that has happened. The university administration could not have scripted it better. It will be interesting as well to see how soon the university feels comfortable putting Paterno back in fund-raising mode.


Dan said...

"The key to handling these things right is, to the greatest extent possible, to take the full hit right away"

Agreed. It's completely beyond me why that never happened in the first place. JoePa and the university president clearly would not have been fired if they turned in Sandusky at the beginning. And I can't imagine the grad student would have gotten himself into a pot of trouble either.

I do suppose that it may have been perceived as violating some sort of trust relationship among the staff, but really, this is a situation where it's worth that risk.

A Question Of ITIL said...

Great writer!
Here's a competition to win advance copies of his new book Redshirts!

John Scalzi Redshirts Competition