Penn State University

After serving five years as the Associate Head Coach to Jerritt Elliott at Texas, Salima Rockwell is returning to her alma mater.

Penn State University announced on Thursday that Rockwell, who was a three-time All-American setter for the Nittany Lions from 1991-94, will assume the position of Associate Head Coach for the 2014 season.

Penn State head coach Russ Rose knows that Rockwell is one of the best assistant coaches in the country today and couldn’t pass up the chance to add her to the staff.

"We're very happy with Salima and her family's decision to return to Penn State," Rose said. "We'd like to welcome Salima, her husband Jeff and their two children to the Penn State community. I also want to thank our SWA, Charmelle Green and our athletic director, Dr. Dave Joyner for their work in making this opportunity possible."

The Pittsburgh native served as the captain for the US National Team in 1997 and 1998 and still ranks Top 10 in Penn State history for assists and digs. She began her coaching career as an assitant at Pittsburgh University in 2001.

In addition to serving as an assistant coach in her five years on the Fort Acres, Rockwell also worked as a recruiting coordinator, helping to bring in the No. 2 recruiting class in 2012.

Rockwell returns to Penn State after serving as an assistant coach for the team from 2005-2008.

The Longhorns will hate to see her go but the opportunity makes a lot of sense for a young coach on the rise.

First and foremost, we are very excited for Salima to undertake this role at her alma mater,” Elliott said. “She's a legend at Penn State, and this is a position that makes sense for her and the Nittany Lions program.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Two years after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal broke, Penn State University has reached a settlement with 26 of the victims.

The university announced Monday that it will pay $59.7 million to the 26 men over claims of child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky. 23 of the deals have been signed while the other three have been agreed to in principle. Penn State still faces six claims, any number of which could result in further settlements.

The settlement process has been ongoing since mid-August. The university has also spent over $50 million on other costs related to the scandal, including lawyer fees and the costs associated with adopting new policies related to children and sexual abuse complaints.

 

Stanford DE Gardner out for season

For the second consecutive week, one of the country’s top five teams has lost its defensive leader. Last week it was Alabama, this week it’s Stanford.

Cardinal fifth-year senior defensive end Ben Gardner underwent season-ending surgery after leaving last Saturday’s game against Oregon State with a left pectoral injury. He had struggled with an upper body injury for several weeks prior to that game.

As one of Stanford’s defensive captains, Gardner had recorded 19 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss so far this year. It is unknown when Gardner will be able to play again, but head coach David Shaw did say he expects the injury to carry through the bowl season.

 

South Carolina’s Shaw remains questionable

After sitting out the start of last Saturday’s game due to a virus and a sprained knee, Gamecocks starting quarterback Connor Shaw is still suffering from the virus and did not practice Monday or Tuesday.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier did not see his quarterback at all early in the week, as he was resting to help cure the virus, and has said that Shaw is still questionable for this Saturday’s contest against Mississippi State.

Despite the sickness and a bad knee, Shaw entered last week’s game in the second half and led the Gamecocks to a come-from-behind, double-overtime victory over Missouri.

 

FAU head coach resigns mid-season

Florida Atlantic head coach Carl Pelini, the brother of Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, stepped down Wednesday. He was in his second season with the Owls, having posted a 2-6 record so far this year and an overall record of 5-15 during his tenure.

FAU defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis also resigned. The resignations come after a recent news story revealed that the coaches were at a social event where marijuana was present.

The Owls were blown out, 45-10, by Auburn last week and will host Conference USA’s top team, Tulane, this Saturday.

Junior Anthony Fera has announced his intent to transfer to Texas for the fall of 2012 and will had depth to the Longhorn’s inexperience roster at kicker. Fera, who is originally from Cypress, Texas, has two years of eligibility left.

 

“The decision to remain at Penn State has been complicated due to an illness in my family,” Fera said on his decision to transfer. “I’ve been afforded the opportunity to give back to my family and make their lives a little easier by transferring to a university much closer to home.”

 

Fera comes to Texas from Penn State University and is a product of the NCAA’s decision to allow immediate transfers with no loss of eligibility in the wake of the scandal in College Park, Pennsylvania.

 

“The past few weeks have been extremely difficult as I’ve wrestled with the decision on my future,” Fera said. “It’s been tough to endure, not only for me, but for my entire immediate family back in Texas, and the Penn State football family.”

 

In 2011, Fera was named to the first-team All-Big Ten team as a punter and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award which recognizes the top placekicker in the country. He was a hopeful for the Ray Guy Award for top punter as well.

 

He was the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week three times in the 2011 season for the Nittany Lions. In 2011, he averaged 42 yards per punt on 64 punts, placing 18 of those inside the red zone. His field goal percentage of 82.4% was third in the Big Ten last year when he went 14-of-17. Fera was a perfect 20-of-20 in extra point attempts and accounted for 62 total points for Penn State.

 

“A new chapter in my life begins next week, and I am very excited to play for such a well-respected coach in Mack Brown, and a Longhorn football program that is traditionally one of the finest in the nation,” Fera said. “I cherish my time at Penn State, but look forward to challenges ahead and the ability to compete on the playing field and in the classroom at another tremendous institution in the University of Texas.”

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A day after the former Penn State assistant football coach who is charged with sexual abuse of boys declared his innocence in a television interview, an email surfaced from a key witness against him, saying he stopped an alleged attack in the team’s showers.

Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who a grand jury report said saw Jerry Sandusky allegedly sodomizing a boy in the locker room, said he stopped the act and went to police. That added confusion to the already emotionally raw situation that has enveloped Penn State University and resulted in the firing of coach Joe Paterno, the ousting of president Graham Spanier and charges of perjury against the athletic director and a former senior vice president.

The Nov. 8 email from McQueary to a friend, made available to The Associated Press, said: “I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room ... I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police .... no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds ... trust me.”

McQueary is a former player and current assistant coach who was placed on indefinite paid leave last week after school officials said he had received threats. Emails sent to him seeking comment were not immediately returned.

On Monday night, Sandusky said in an NBC television interview that he showered with and “horsed around” with boys but was innocent of criminal charges, a statement that has stunned legal observers. Sandusky’s comments, they said, could be used by prosecutors trying to convict him of child sex-abuse charges.

“Mr. Sandusky goes on worldwide television and admits he did everything the prosecution claims he did, except for the ultimate act of rape or sodomy? If I were a prosecutor, I’d be stunned,” said Lynne Abraham, the former district attorney of Philadelphia. “I was stunned, and then I was revolted.”

The state grand jury investigation that led to Sandusky’s arrest followed a trail that goes back at least 13 years, leading to questions from some quarters about whether law enforcement moved too slowly.

The grand jury report detailed a 1998 investigation by Penn State police, begun after an 11-year-old boy’s mother complained that Sandusky had showered with her son in the football facilities. Then-District Attorney Ray Gricar declined to file charges.

Another apparent missed opportunity came in the 2002 incident that McQueary reported to Paterno.

The case took on new urgency about two years ago, when a woman complained to officials at her local school district that Sandusky had sexually assaulted her son. School district officials banned him from school grounds and contacted police, leading to an investigation by state police, the attorney general’s office and the grand jury. Gov. Tom Corbett took the case on a referral from the Centre County district attorney in early 2009 while he was serving as attorney general.

He bristled Tuesday when asked whether it was fair for people to criticize the pace of the probe.

“People that are saying that are ill-informed as to how investigations are conducted, how witnesses are developed, how backup information, corroborative information is developed, and they really don’t know what they’re talking about,” he told reporters.

The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the pace of the investigation.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported Monday that only one trooper was assigned to the case after the state took it over in 2009. After Corbett became governor early this year and his former investigations supervisor in the attorney general’s office, Frank Noonan, became state police commissioner, seven more investigators were put on it, the newspaper said.

Printed on Thursday, November 17, 2011 as: Email outlines reaction to alleged Sandusky attack, adds twist to case

Penn State students and others gather off campus following the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid the growing furor over how the school handled sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy of Matt Rourke)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

UT alumnus Brad Kurz was writing a paper Wednesday night when he heard Pennsylvania State University’s Board of Trustees had fired long-time football coach Joe Paterno. Moments later, Kurz heard a police officer pass by his room.

“He said ‘there is a mob of students trying to break into the main building,’” Kurz said. “He came back a few moments later and said the students were heading towards Beaver Street, the main site of the protest [Wednesday].”

Paterno’s dismissal and the subsequent student riots after the announcement made national headlines yesterday night and spurred conversation on many college campuses. Kurz said students were in a state of shock that quickly turned to anger after the announcement, because no one had heard anything about it before. Penn State’s Board of Trustees dismissed Paterno for failing to report rape accusations against his former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Kurz graduated from UT with a degree in psychology and liberal arts honors last spring and currently studies higher education administration at Penn State. Kurz said before he got to Penn State he would joke with his friends that Paterno was like a mascot they only let out for games. He said his perception of Paterno has changed since he got to Penn State.

“Just being around and seeing his impact, you have to grow close to ‘Joe Pa,’” Kurz said. “I don’t even know half of the stories, but what I do know is so impactful, so incredible. I’d be blind not to be impacted.”

Kurz said although there is an ethical debate surrounding Paterno’s actions, students still want him to stay.

“The feeling here is that ‘Joe Pa’ is Penn State,” Kurz said. “He and have wife have created traditions here and have given so much money to charities. Everywhere you go, you see their names.”

Rachel Perrotta, political science sophomore at Penn State, said students will hold a candlelight vigil for the victims of Jerry Sandusky Friday night. A group of Penn State alumni have also recently partnered with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an organization providing support for victims of sexual abuse, with a goal to raise $500,000, one dollar for each of Penn States’ alumni, according to the organization’s website.

Paterno released a statement Wednesday saying he was disappointed with the Board of Trustees decision, but he had to accept it. Before the Board announced their decision he said he would retire at the end of the season.

“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said in the statement. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Glenn Frankel, dean of the School of Journalism, said the only moment equivalent to the firing of Joe Paterno is when Margaret Thatcher stepped down as prime minister of the U.K.

“It was a very sudden thing,” Frankel said. “She thought she was going to be there until the end, then the wise men of the Conservative Party came to her and told her ‘it’s over.’”

This sits very well with the modern American narrative that no institution can be trusted and everyone in authority is like the emperor with no clothes, Frankel said.

“Anyone or any institution that has power and authority over other people needs to be looked at and held accountable,” Frankel said. “That applies to Joe Paterno, Penn State, UT and any other institution.”

Student Government president Natalie Butler said although she thought Paterno was a great football coach the incident was tragic and she felt bad for all of the victims.

“I don’t think people in that position have a higher moral obligation,” Butler said in response to allegations that Paterno should have known better. “It is unfortunate this is the way his career had to end.”

Engineering senior Phillipe Brady said he always thought of Paterno as the grandfather of college football and a stand up guy. He said Paterno was to Penn State what Mack Brown is to UT — they represent all that’s good at their university.

“I don’t think that would happen here, and if it did I don’t know what I would do,” Brady said. “It’s frightening to see someone that good fall as far as Joe Paterno.”