I have not followed this story as closely as some of my colleagues probably have. I recall when it first happened, the topic came up in class as it applied to our discussions on the four frames. I had to go home and research the topic. Since the story was all over the sports media broadcasts, I also asked my sports-following husband about it. When the Penn State scandal broke and the University president was replaced, the interim president, Rodney Erikson, stated that Penn State would ”not only do what is required under the law; we will do what is right.” I think that the interim president made a statement which addressed the political frame and also the human resource frame.
When he states that the University “will do what is required by law,” he is ensuring the public that no longer will this scandal be overlooked. As with the political frame, he is demonstrating the reorganization of power and his ability to exercise his power. Erikson is making the public aware that Penn State will no longer tolerate allegations but will instead investigate the allegations and follow the letter of the law to address them. He must make this statement to start re-building the reputation of Penn State and its athletics program. And really, what choice did he have but to make a statement to follow the law to address the situation? The story was out, former students and players were coming forward against Sandusky, and the public needed answers.
When Erikson states that the university “will do what is right,” he is addressing the human resources frame. He is ensuring the public that justice will prevail. With this section of his statement, he is balancing human needs with his formal role as interim president. Erikson is also working to develop relationships, with the public and with the families effected by the scandal by addressing their needs and feelings. Again, this statement is a lead-in to start re-building the reputation of Penn State. He needs to ensure the public that the administration is on top of the situation and that justice will prevail.
In my opinion, I feel that Erikson’s initial reactions and statements made to the situation were well thought out and planned. He needed to make sure that the public knew someone was in control of the situation. This scandal is long from being resolved. In early January, Erikson was questioned about being “evasive” with his answers to new questions from the media (Staff Report, Sporting News, 2012). Just this past Friday, the two top Penn State Board of Trustees members responsible for firing the legendary Joe Paterno announced that they will not seek re-election to the Board, leaving the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman up for re-election by other Board members (Reuters, 2012). In school administration there will always be situations in which the leader will need to make a formal statement. These statements need to be honest, thorough and reassuring to the stakeholders of the organization.