Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sour Grapes—Vicky Triponey Throws Fuel on the Paterno Fire

Remember that kid in kindergarten who always chimed in with irrelevant facts when someone else got in trouble? If a student spilled his milk, this is the one who yelled “And he broke my pencil last week!” If someone forgot their homework, this is the one who said “And she threw the ball too hard at recess!”

That kid grew up to be Vicky Triponey.

A former vice president of student affairs at Penn State, Triponey butted heads several times with football coach Joe Paterno over how to discipline players. Despite having left the university in 2007, Triponey held on to a series of email exchanges that demonstrates the power struggle she had with administration. The emails don’t paint a rosy picture of the relationship between Joe Paterno and Triponey. Although Triponey has no ongoing association with Penn State and has no connection with the recent scandal, she's sent those emails, some going back more than five years, to the Wall Street Journal this week.

Bitter, much?

The problem is, of course, that her story is one-sided. None of the people who were involved in these exchanges, including former Penn State President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley, can comment on the situation because they are consumed with other, more pressing issues. Paterno’s lawyer released a statement saying that these emails were “out of context” and “misleading.”

He’s right. There are two sides, sometimes more, to every story. What most of the news articles about Triponey leave out is that many members of Penn State’s staff and administration struggled with her and had a general feeling of distrust in their dealings with her. One student group posted a “Vicky Triponey Timeline of Terror” on their website and her public problems with many campus groups were well-documented, especially after her sudden resignation.

Whether Triponey is justified in her assessment of Paterno and the football program is irrelevant. Instead, she simply shows up now to grab headlines and add to the media frenzy around Paterno. Onward State was correct in calling out the Wall Street Journal for this sensationalist reporting. Just because Triponey has something to say doesn’t mean that it deserves attention. In fact, the only thing Triponey seems to have accomplished is to take focus away from what really matters—the victims.


  1. I like how you write and I like how you think and I love those pictures you took at the statue. Thank you.

  2. A shameful entry, not to mention uninformed.

    Generalizing her as a kindergartener with "irrelevant facts" and suggesting that she had no ongoing relationship with Penn State is disgusting and inaccurate.

    Her husband continued to teach for several years after she left Penn State. Her time at the university will forever be on her resume. People wrote about her time at Penn State long after she resigned (and before the Sandusky story was revealed), so it's contradictory to suggest that her own experiences are reflections of bitterness that are not relevant to the issue currently front and center.

    The relevance is obvious to anyone who is intellectually honest; she revealed the condition whereby Joe Paterno micromanaged the athletic department and held power over even his own boss (Graham Spanier). It was through revelations like this that we learned that Joe threatened to hold the entire university hostage by refusing to participate in fundraisers unless he was given absolute control over the discipline of student athletes (unethical, obviously), and that he dared Spanier to fire him after Spanier and a member of the board asked him to resign a few years later.

    It was by learning these things that we can unerstand that Joe was not able to honestly say that he was somehow disconnected from the horrible crimes of Sandusky, because Joe knew and controlled EVERYTHING that went on in the athletic department, and Vicky Triponey clarified that issue. Of course I believe that is precisely why people like you are critical of her. As a Penn State grad myself, I find that this phenomenon is predominately held by those who wish to artificially protect the Paterno brand.

    Your article should commend her for refusing to simply accept the compromise that was required by Graham Spanier and to choose to resign, instead of pretending that it was OK for Joe to cover up misbehavior in the department just so she could keep her job and title. If only you had that kind of moral compass.

    As it stands now, the stain of this sin can be found on Sandusky, Spanier, Curley, and yes...Paterno, but since you can't find it on Vicky Triponey, you fabricate a new negative that is unearned and innacurate.

    Given the way she was treated, more than a few people who are obviously smarter than you would ask why she would've kept quiet. Of course those who would attempt to protect Joe are more inclined to try and direct blame elsewhere.

    As a "mom," I wonder if you would think it acceptable if any stone was left unturned in the revelation and prosecution of people who might be able to shed light on the conditions which led to the molestation of your own child.

    You owe Vicky Triponey an apology for this article.

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    Thanks for making me laugh. Your points are irrelevant and lacking in common sense, but I enjoyed the humor.

    1. So you are incapable of addressing them?

      Since your article was essentially ad hominem, I'm not surprised that my reply was over your head.

  4. Whether Triponey is justified in her assessment of Paterno and the football program is irrelevant.

    You lost me right about there.... Or maybe way before that. I guess physically assaulting another human beings is also irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is Triponey left Penn State and therefore she must be bitter and anything she says must be unreliable. No, that is not one-sided at all.

  5. You owe her an apology... and most (maybe not all but MOST) people who know her found her to be forthright, honest and a no bullshit kinda person... She isn't someone to sit back and do the wrong thing just because everyone else is...

  6. Vicky is vindictive at the least- and a liar at the worst:

    And finally:

    Some of these links are PRE-SCANDAL. They all apply to Triponey and her "allegations" either directly or indirectly. No one owes ANYONE an apology, as far as this witch is concerned.

  7. Read this. It justifies EVERYTHING Dr. Triponey has said and written... and more.

  8. Dr. Triponey is commenting on the Good-Ol'-Boys culture that allowed a horrible and inexcusable cover up of child rape over many, many years. Such a cover up cannot happen without cultural support, and this is the exact point of her e-mails. The same culture that will minimize and even excuse violence and sexual assault on the part of football players is the same culture that will do nothing appropriate about an assistant coach raping and sexually assaulting children, not just once, but many times. How can you not see the connection? Because you don't want to see it, that's how. You, therefore, are part of the problem that victimized so many children. Penn State is not a university, it is a disease, and no self-respecting person would go there after this. Triponey's experience is obviously relevant, and any one who wants to shut her up is certainly guilty of aiding and abetting said university culture that allows child rape. Shame on all Penn Staters who do not listen and learn from Vicky Triponey.