|Not pictured: the guy who handed the Pegulas both those sticks and a reason to believe in Penn State hockey.|
As much as I want to completely wash my hands of what's happened at Penn State over the last week (and believe me, I've tried at every step of the way), unfortunately another hockey angle to the story has surfaced. It's something that started as a few snide tweets and message board posts, but later escalated into something reported by legitimate news outlets, like College Hockey News. Yep, it's the Penn State hockey d-day scenario:
Meanwhile, could Pegula conceivably pull his donation to the university? They're almost ready to break ground on a new arena that will bear his name.Fortunately, that question was answered rather quickly today.
It appears the development of the programs and the arena they will share will not be halted. Terry Pegula, whose $88 million donation is funding the men's program and the arena, to be named the Pegula Ice Arena, has told Penn State officials that his family's commitment is "as strong as ever."While that comes as a relief to an extent, it's not that much of a surprise to myself, or to CHN for that matter (in fairness, I quoted them a little out of context above).
That's according to Joe Battista, the associate athletic director for ice arena and hockey development, who responded to an email by first acknowledging that hearts are heavy for the victims and their families.
Let there be no mistake about it, I have nothing but disdain for the vast majority of people in positions of power at Penn State right now - extending well beyond the deposed Graham Spanier and the almost-kind of deposed Tim Curley to include both the board of trustees and the athletic department. However, one of the few exceptions to that statement is Joe Battista. While I have occasionally disagreed with him about one thing or another, the fact remains that I have an unwavering belief in the type of person he is and his ability to build hockey programs that can restore some pride to a reeling university. Same goes for Bill Downey and all of the coaches for both the men's and women's programs. I hope you believe me when I say that I don't believe we've made a single misstep with a hire yet, and that, of course, started with Battista.
Know who else has faith in Battista? Terry Pegula. Before questioning whether he'd ever pull his donation, it's important to remember how it started: with that faith in Battista, eventually backed up with a rather large check. This was never about charlatans like Curley and Spanier, although they were more than happy to show up for the photo ops and take their undeserved credit (see above). It was never even really about the university - Pegula graduated from Penn State in 1973 and was more or less just another anonymous alumnus before (now) famously approaching Battista to ask why PSU didn't have a varsity hockey program.
Even today, with his mega-donor status, he hasn't exactly immersed himself in the university in any way that doesn't involve Battista's presence. In fact, it could be argued that his non-Battista PSU-related business has actually been counterproductive to the university, including his stumping for new football head coach Tom Bradley to be hired away by Temple last December and his relationship with Pennsylvania governor/PSU budget-slasher Tom Corbett, to cite two examples.
UPDATE 3:35 P.M.: Pegula has released his own statement. It reads in full:
“The events that are unfolding at Penn State University are deeply troubling and a matter of great concern to me and my wife Kim. As many have expressed, our primary concern is for the individuals and families who may have been victimized.”
“Penn State's reputation has been severely tarnished. We are encouraged to see the University trustees have begun the process of restoring integrity and trust in the institution. This process will take a period of time and trust will need to be re-earned as a result of these recent disclosures.”
“Penn State is supported by millions of students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators. Our own support for Penn State and its hockey program is well known and will continue. We expect the University will carry out its educational mission with high standards and integrity.”