There's quite a lively discussion going on in the comments section on our Web site and on Twitter over Bucky Gleason's column today on Terry Pegula and Penn State. Large parts of it are fascinating to read. (By all means, keep commenting!)
I have received several dozen Twitter replies and emails myself asking why The News pressed the Sabres to have Pegula meet with the media, or at least give some thoughts, in the wake of the crisis at his alma mater. Pegula issued a three-paragraph statement on Penn State late Thursday afternoon in the wake of the firings of football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier on Wednesday night. The News has also requested comment from Sabres chief development officer Cliff Benson, but that request has not yet been filled.
Benson, a retired accountant, faciliated Pegula's $88 million gift to Penn State and is a former finance chair and current state board member of The Second Mile, the agency founded by disgraced Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. You would think he would have something to say too, sooner rather than later.
Anyone can have any opinion they want on Pegula's statement. But I am going to make this point loud and clear right now: It is time for readers to STOP BADGERING US WITH THE THEORY PEGULA GAVE HIS MONEY TO HOCKEY AND THUS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOTBALL.
You are dead wrong. Did the capital letters make myself clear?
Pegula talked Penn State football with the media at the Sabres' opening press conference in September after he had attended the Penn State-Alabama game. Parts of the conversation made John Vogl's season preview story in our preview section. He is a devout Penn State FOOTBALL fan.
His gift was made at a press conference last year to Spanier, the deposed president, and he's obviously close to Tim Curley, the athletic director now accused of perjury in the case. Even if he hated football -- which he doesn't -- those facts alone make his opinion on the scandal highly relevant.
And there's this: In the last year, Pegula himself made calls on behalf of Tom Bradley, the Penn State defensive coordinator who has been named interim coach in the wake of Paterno's firing. Pegula called Temple on Bradley's behalf when Bradley was involved with the coaching job there. The Harrisburg Patriot-News also reported last year that Pegula called Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg on behalf of Bradley when the Pitt job opened.
So Pegula obviously has a close relationship with the man who just replaced Joe Paterno. Anyone still want to say he has nothing to do with Penn State football?
So by all means, please leave any and all comments you want on Twitter, the blog, our stories, wherever. But stop saying Pegula has nothing to do with Penn State football so that's an excuse for him not to say anything about perhaps the worst scandal in the history of college sports. A scandal happening at his alma mater, where he ranks as the largest private donor in its history.
His comments are more than a little relevant.