Penn State’s Crisis Offers Guidance to Other Universities and Institutions

Today’s blog post is featured on CommPro.Biz – read the full version here – Michael Fineman on

Penn State isn’t the only NCAA major conference school with serious public relations issues related to their athletic department. Athletic programs are fraught with challenging circumstances given the combination of natural immaturity on the part of students, the high financial stakes confronting university administrators, and adulating fans willing to turn a blind eye to unholy doings in the name of winning.

Potentially high profile issues cannot be buried for long. Whether athletes have been injured during hazing, provided with money or expensive toys, are involved in drug use, or engaged in sexual harassment or outright felonies, the media and community will ultimately hear about it. Yet even when what is embarrassing or criminal is uncovered, many schools go silent or flat out stonewall as though not addressing the issues will make them disappear or minimize the damage. There are many stakeholders in a university’s reputation, but, unfortunately, many of them are left to depend on the judgment and wisdom of school athletic departments, a risky business.

You would think the Penn State example provides the impetus for change, but will it?

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