HARRISBURG, Pa. — After being named Penn State athletic director last summer, it did not take long for Sandy Barbour to discover how powerful certain words had become for the university.
One of them was culture, and the negative connotation it carried in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. Investigator Louis Freeh criticized PSU's culture in handing down a report on the scandal, then NCAA president Mark Emmert did the same after the program was slammed with harsh sanctions.
But over the past two years, all of the remaining sanctions have been repealed and the consent decree that led to them has been wiped out. Emmert himself recently admitted he could have handled the situation better. And the Freeh Report has come under intense scrutiny.
Though she was not around when all hell was breaking loose in Happy Valley, Barbour believes it is about time for the university to start using that word again.
This issue about culture, the word 'culture,' Barbour said to an alumni gathering of about 250 people in Harrisburg Tuesday. I'd been on the job maybe a week or something, and I said something about 'culture,' and there was this, ohhhhhhhhh.
Well, then somebody told me, well, Mark Emmert, this or that, whatever, she added. You know what? We need to reclaim that word.
The ballroom erupted in applause.
We cannot let somebody else take that away from us, Barbour continued. We have a great culture, we've always had a great culture and we will continue to.
The comments came during a Q&A session with Barbour, second-year PSU football coach James Franklin and two other Nittany Lion varsity coaches. Barbour was asked about her first nine months on the job, and the culture comment appeared to be an ad-lib off an earlier line from Franklin.
I believe in Penn State, Franklin said in a speech. I believe in our people. I believe in our culture. Let me say that again. I believe in our CULTURE.
And I believe in those things more today than the day I was hired, he added. I am so thankful to be the head football coach at Penn State.