Thursday, November 1, 2012

ATTENTION: University/College Presidents and Leaders of Other Organizations

The other shoe dropped today, with the indictments of the former President, Vice-President and Athletic Director of Penn State University, charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children abused by the school's former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Pennsylvania state prosecutors, led by State Attorney General Linda Kelly, accused the trio of using their positions to conceal and cover-up the actions of a child predator.  Kelly said, "This was not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgement.  This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to conceal the truth with total disregard for the suffering of children."

Graham Spanier, former President of Penn State for 16-years, was fired nearly a year ago, when the Board was faced with evidence he had covered up what he had been told about Sandusky's involvement with young boys.

Spanier now faces eight criminal charges, including five felonies, each of which carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Here at the Institute for Crisis Management we constantly preach the concept of "doing the right thing."   When you do the right thing to begin with you narrow the range of "what else can go wrong."  And, when you take responsibility quickly for things that go wrong, you take the "gotcha" out of the "news coverage" and significantly reduce the backlash from friends and foes.

And, in this case, you don't have to worry about getting caught breaking the law. 

There are two lessons in today's news out of Harrisburg, PA.  Doing the right thing, or in this case the results of NOT doing the right thing is very clear. 

The other valuable lesson is admitting in e-mail and other written documents, that you know what you are doing is wrong. Prosecutors revealed an e-mail exchange between former President Spanier and former AD Tim Curley in which Spanier wrote:  "The only downside for us ...we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road."

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