Prepare for Stark and Total Privatization at Penn State, and Beyond.
“Only a crisis—actual or perceived––produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around…”
The sanctions imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case will lead to the most unprecedented cascade of privatization ever witnessed on an American university campus. State College will become a laboratory others will surly follow, the machine of industry once again preying on the week and exploiting a circumstance few now involved can control.
The main causes of this action will be a quick hit and a slow drain. The first being the $73 million fine imposed by the NCAA ($63 million, one year’s gross revenue of Penn State Football) and the Big Ten Conference ($10 million) which will, justifiably, go to help victims of child abuse. This amount pales in comparison to the amounts the victims and their families will win in civil court. Blank Check Time as many have described it. While loaded alumni will no doubt pile money into the University as a sign of solidarity the famously full endowment coffers at State College will drain dangerously low in short order. At the same time the crippling sanctions placed on the Football team itself will knock out the steam of any recovery effort. Realistically speaking Penn State will be fielding a D-II team for the next decade. A 3-9 season will be reason to cheer. 110,000+ seat Beaver Stadium was not built for such mediocrity. The throngs of fans which make State College the 4th largest city in Pennsylvania on game day will dwindle. These facts leave university administrators with few options.
Tuition, already skyrocketing, will be cranked to near astronomical levels. Without the allure of a winning football and outstanding moral culture, admissions will drop. Faced with the prospect of 6 more years of the Corbett Administration it becomes clear that Penn State cannot sustain itself in the wake of this aftermath. They begin to cutbait with the past.
They’ll come in like vultures, buying first the large tracks of agricultural land the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania was founded for back in the day. University infrastructure will be turned over to multinational subsidiaries. Dorms will rent out to students from private owners. Campus police will be outsourced. Campus research will be increasingly pushed to turn a profit in patents to replace the untold amounts of intellectual property sold off. Courses which are already used as a punchline for academic uselessness will be unceremoniously cut. Joe Paterno’s name on the library might well be torn down as well to make way for corporate sponsorship.
In the end with fitting irony Beaver Stadium will be gone. Either stripped for scrap of its expansions (built over the years by JoePa’s wins) or sold off as a whole to a private promoter. Probably both.
Pennsylvania State University will be a watershed moment, a clear line of demarcation for the end of the college bubble. The tools, tactics, and language pioneered in Happy Valley will be echoed throughout the American higher educational system. Exploiting a crisis when presented with one or forging ahead with uncompromising craft. A town built to unsustainable limits on the backs of an exploitative, egotistical, primitive blood sport. Where human dignity and morals were disregarded when they flew in the face of money and power. Jerry Sandusky is a monster who will die alone, Joe Paterno is a disgraced man who lead others to ruin, and the program he built will end up destroying the University he loved.
For his callus disregard for the moral imperative, Joseph Vincent Paterno may have destroyed the American university forever.