Penn Staters reacts to Rutgers fan conduct
Update: Athletic Director Julie Hermann apologized on behalf of the University and Athletic Department for the "actions of a handful of Rutgers fans." The statement can be read here.
As Jeffrey Simons, a Penn State alumnus, browsed an online college football chat board after Saturday’s Rutgers-Penn State game, he came across what he described as a “rather offensive” image.
Taken at the pre-game tailgate outside of High Point Solutions Stadium, the picture shows a banner that replaced Penn State’s Nittany Lion logo with a sexually explicit image of a child and a man.
This banner overtly intended to mock former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse crimes, and it is among several Sandusky-centered jeers that some Penn Staters accused of crossing the line.
“Those kinds of actions really deter from moving forward on the conversation of something helpful, and it’s kind of classless,” said Simons, a Plano, Texas, resident.
Simons reasoned that the actions of one individual should not define Rutgers fandom as a whole, especially since many others had associated the actions of Sandusky with the entire Penn State community.
Yet later that day, the official Rutgers Football Facebook page posted pictures of fans wearing shirts that read “Beat Ped State,” alluding to the Sandusky’s pedophiliac crimes.
“These shirts don’t do anything to help actual victims, certainly not kids who were the victims of the really, really failed child safety [laws] in Pennsylvania. … Let’s just play football,” he said.
Rutgers Football has since taken down these pictures.
Zach Berger, writing for Penn State’s independent online news site Onward State, accused Rutgers fans of acting terribly. In his article, “Takeaways: Penn State Chops Rutgers,” Berger claimed that Rutgers fans “screamed at players and spit on people walking on the field.”
Berger said Big Ten fans usually show a mutual respect for one another. Simons said in his time at Penn State, he hadn’t seen similar conduct from Penn State’s biggest rivals, Ohio State and Michigan State.
“At the end of the day, we’re all ‘B1G.’ Rutgers needs to learn that, and fast,” Berger wrote.
Although Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, sent students an advisory email regarding off-campus student conduct Friday, the University has not issued a statement regarding fan conduct before and during Saturday’s game.
Instead, as nj.com reporter Keith Sargeant writes, “what impressed Barchi most during the Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten game was the palpable buzz throughout the stadium.”
Wendy Silverwood, a Penn State alumna and member of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, expressed her discontent with Rutgers’ conduct and hopes its administration will respond.
“I am in hopes that the Rutgers community makes a clear statement about conduct becoming their fans,” the West Chester, Pennsylvania resident said in an email.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jerry Sandusky committed sex crimes during his tenure as Penn State assistant football coach, and Onward State was incorrectly referred to as a newspaper.