Pasqualoni Saddened by Penn State News

Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni played for Joe Paterno at Penn State and is a 1972 graduate of the university in State College, Pa. The past year has been difficult for Pasqualoni to observe, starting with the sexual assault charges against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the firing and death of Paterno, and all the legal ramifications.

Like everyone else in college athletics, Pasqualoni has watched the surreal events of the past two days – starting with the removal of Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium on Sunday, and then the press conference Monday morning where the NCAA handed down perhaps the stiffest sanctions ever against a member university.

Pasqualoni issued this statement Monday afternoon, through the UConn athletics communications office:

"As I have said in the past, Penn State is still a tremendous University – and always will be. I feel bad about this happening [at] my alma mater, but I would feel bad if this happened at any school. The sanctions handed down by the NCAA today are severe, but with the intent of making positive changes at the school. The report that was recently submitted to Penn State indicates that there is evidence that major mistakes were make there and the covering up of a horrific situation."

The NCAA sanctions against Penn State include a $60 million fine that will be paid into "external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university."

Penn State will also vacate all wins from 1998 (when Sandusky reportedly assaulted his first victim) to 2011. Taking away those 112 wins means Paterno no longer ranks as the coach with the most victories in college football history.

The Nittany Lions received a four-year postseason ban; a four-year scholarship reduction; players at Penn State may transfer and play immediately at other schools; and the athletic department was placed on probation for five years.

Attempts to reach Pasqualoni by phone were unsuccessful. Before his statement was released by UConn, the coach of the Huskies told The Hartford Courant this:

"My feeling is, like a lot of players, I got an awful lot out of playing the game of football. I learned an awful lot on the football field and the experience of being involved in football. I always felt like it was a big part of my education. I felt fortunate in the fact I had two educations: one in the classroom and another most students don't have a chance to experience, you know, the real life experience, and what it means to succeed in football. That was a very positive thing for me and I hope — I hope — that it's a very positive thing for football players currently today at all programs around the country.

"The value in playing intercollegiate athletics or high schools sports is the educational part of it. There's nothing that diminishes that part for me, but in the sense that this happened, you know, for me, obviously it's my alma mater and it's around people that I know. That makes me sad. There's no question but I would feel bad regardless of where this happened ... Do I feel sad? Yeah, I do feel sad."

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