One major Penn State donor said he might write the university out of his will, while others said neither the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal nor recent unpopular actions by the university’s leadership are making them rethink their financial support for the school.
How those issues resonate with alumni and other financial supporters could have repercussions for decades to come.
The university said it’s too soon to gauge the effect on fund-raising of the recent decisions to remove Joe Paterno’s statue and acquiesce to severe NCAA penalties, but there are signs of discontent.
‘‘I happen to believe that giving money to this particular board of trustees and this particular president is flushing it down the toilet,’’ said Chicago venture capitalist George Middlemas, a $10 million-plus donor and Paterno loyalist since they met in the 1960s. ‘‘The university says, ‘Well, our contributions are up.’ That’s because people are fulfilling their pledges, but they’re not going to offer any new pledges, as far as I can tell.’’
Super donor Lloyd Huck, a retired Merck & Co. chairman and former president of the school’s trustees, called the scandal ‘‘a terrible situation,’’ but he sees it as confined to several people and not something that will cause him to halt his contributions, which at last count totaled more than $40 million.
Ira Stolzer, a retired Hallmark Cards Inc. marketing executive and a member of the university’s national championship gymnastics team in the 1970s, has been active in fund-raising among former Penn State athletes as part of the For the Future campaign.
‘‘I can tell you I’ve been on the phone nonstop for a week, and the single theme is: How can we help?’’ said Stolzer.
O’Brien on task
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has a plan for dealing with the limitations of sanctions imposed on the Nittany Lions. With scholarships set to be reduced to 65 — 20 fewer than the usual limit — and no bowl appearances for four years, the Nittany Lions must find a way to recruit.
‘‘I don’t understand how people think you just say, ‘Well I quit, see you later.’ That’s a bunch of bull,’’ O’Brien said Friday on the final session of Big Ten media day in Chicago.
‘‘You look at the sanctions and you figure out how to deal with them,’’ the Patriots’ former offensive coordinator said. “We have a bunch of bright guys on the coaching staff and that’s what we’re doing right now.’’
Franco Harris and two other former Penn State football players said the report about Penn State’s handling of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal ‘‘is highly flawed, and factually insufficient.’’
Harris, Rudy Glocker, and Christian Marrone sent to other Penn State alumni an e-mail and letter criticizing the Freeh report that they plan to publish in The Wall Street Journal and other large publications.