New Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien left a Super Bowl job with the New England Patriots in order to take over for Joe Paterno in State College, taking on perhaps the most pressurized gig in college football history. Considering both the weight of Paterno's legacy and the stigma and looming penalties against PSU, O'Brien knew he was walking into a fearsome challenge.
Monday, O'Brien issued his first statement after NCAA president Mark Emmert unveiled a custom suite of sanctions -- O'Brien, you'll recall, had nothing to do with the Jerry Sandusky coverup, yet still has to pay a mighty, mighty price.
Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.
I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university.
Also, athletic director David Joyner, who played no role in the Sandusky coverup either, commented on the sanctions:
The Freeh Report concluded that individuals at Penn State University entrusted to positions of authority, shunned their basic responsibility to protect children, and innocent children suffered as a result. Our hearts go out to the victims of this abuse and their families.
Today Penn State takes another step forward in changing the culture at the institution as we accept the penalties of the NCAA for the failure of leadership that occurred on our campus. We are deeply disappointed that some of our leaders could have turned a blind eye to such abuse, and agree that the culture at Penn State must change. As we move forward, today's student athletes have a challenging road ahead. But they will do the right thing, as they have always done. I am confident all of our head coaches will come together to make the change necessary to drive our university forward. Penn State will continue to fully support its established athletic programs, which provide opportunities for over 800 student athletes.
Working together, the path ahead will not be easy. But it is necessary, just, and will bring a better future. Our faculty, staff, students, athletes, and parents will work together as Penn State begins this new chapter. Though this cooperation and collaboration, Penn State will become a national model for compliance, ethics, and embodiment of the student athlete credo.
New president Rodney Erickson released a statement as well.