Paterno Accused of Lax Discipline

Paterno Accused of Lax Discipline

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno clashed repeatedly with the university's former chief disciplinarian over how harshly to punish players who got into trouble, internal emails suggest, shedding new light on the school's effort to balance its reputation as a magnet for scholar-athletes with the demands of running a nationally dominant football program.

In an Aug. 12, 2005, email to Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier and others, Vicky Triponey, the university's standards and conduct officer, complained that Mr. Paterno believed she should have "no interest, (or business) holding our football players accountable to our community standards. The Coach is insistent he knows best how to discipline his players…and their status as a student when they commit violations of our standards should NOT be our concern…and I think he was saying we should treat football players different from other students in this regard."

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."

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."

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