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Paterno Clashed With Penn State Official Over Discipline for Football Players

Joe Paterno, the longtime Penn State football coach who was ousted two weeks ago, fought the efforts of a university official who sought to punish football players who got in trouble, The Wall Street Journal reports. Citing internal e-mails between Vicky Triponey, formerly the university’s standards-and-conduct officer, and Graham B. Spanier, who was fired as president this month in the wake of a child-sexual-abuse scandal, the Journal portrays a coach who resisted attempts to hold football players to the same code of conduct as other university students.

In a 2005 e-mail to Mr. Spanier, Ms. Triponey wrote: “The coach is insistent he knows best how to discipline his players … and their status as a student when they commit violations of our standards should NOT be our concern … and I think he was saying we should treat football players different from other students in this regard.”

In another 2005 message to Mr. Spanier and to the athletic director, Timothy M. Curley, she said the athletic department had resisted her staff’s efforts to investigate football players, who she said got in trouble at a “disproportionate rate” from other students. “The calls and pleas from coaches, board members, and others when we are considering a case are, indeed, putting us in a position that does treat football players differently and with greater privilege,” Ms. Triponey wrote. She resigned in 2007, citing “philosophical differences.”

A spokesman for Mr. Paterno’s lawyer, Wick Sollers, said the allegations set forth in the Journal article were “out of context” and “filled with inaccuracies.” A Penn State official told the Associated Press that “we adjudicated athlete cases the same as we did any other student.”

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