Who is Vicky Triponey?
And why does she hate Joe Paterno?
Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned. And there is no doubt that Vicky Triponey was spurned by Joe Paterno.
Triponey was hired in 2003 by Graham Spanier after a rocky and controversial stint at the University of Connecticut. Within months of her arrival at Penn State she began a “Reign of Terror” aimed at consolidating power within her Office of Student Affairs and crushing or eliminating anything or anyone that challenged that power.
She began by dismantling the Student Organization Appeals Board. This Board, composed of students, faculty and administrators, heard appeals from organizations like the student government and the fraternity council. Triponey became the sole arbiter of of any questions or disputes, with no appeal possible.
She then informed the campus radio station, LION 90.7, that all funding would be terminated unless her office was given direct control over programming and content. She famously warned, “the first thing to go will be Radio Free Penn State” — the popular talk show known for its frank criticism of some of the administration’s decisions.
Triponey next turned on the Student Supreme Court which was part of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). For fifty years, the Court effectively registered and oversaw student organizations. Again, she usurped all decision-making power and became the judge and jury herself.
After, essentially dissolving the USG, the student government, and replacing it with an organization under her direct control, she decided it was time to butt heads with Joe Paterno.
In 2007, she pounced on an off-campus incident: Anthony Scirrotto, a safety on the football team, and his girlfriend were accosted and assaulted by three drunken students on a State College street. Two of those attackers were subsequently found guilty of harassment and criminal mischief. Later that evening, Scirrotto and a number of his teammates met up with the attackers at an off-campus apartment party, where a confrontation and fight ensued.
In a series of emails to Dr. Spanier, Triponey insisted that she alone had the responsibility to discipline the players involved and indicated that suspension or expulsion was called for. Joe Paterno pointed out that since the incidents were off-campus and everyone involved was facing criminal trials, it was necessary to wait for DUE PROCESS to take its course and that in the meantime he would, as always, determine team discipline.
Ultimately, all charges against Scirroto were dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to misdemeanor trespass resulting in a fine of $500 and 25 hours of community service.
Joe used the incident as a teaching moment, sentencing the WHOLE TEAM to a season of after-game stadium cleanup duty. When Triponey protested and insisted that she alone should determine the fate of the players, Joe said he really didn’t think she understood teenagers very well, having never had children of her own. (Ouch!)
That set her off on another round of emails and threats. By this time she had made so many enemies on campus and was creating so much turmoil, that Dr. Spanier asked for her resignation, acknowledging the mistake he had made four years earlier.
Now, with Joe gone and Spanier sidelined, Triponey gets to play her “I told you so” card in a very receptive media environment, obscuring the plain truth that absolutely nothing she did or didn’t do in her disastrous tenure at Penn State had any relationship whatsoever to the Sandusky affair and it’s aftermath.
Even Louis Freeh ignored her complaints in his biased summary of his investigation. We don’t know if she influenced Mark Emmert. What we do know is that she is a bitter, disgruntled former employee who was spurned by Penn State and Coach Paterno.
And that she believes she understands kids in their late teens and early 20’s better than a man who spent 61 years mentoring them. And who helped raise five of his own kids and 17 grandchildren.
That’s who Vicky Triponey is. And that’s why she hates Joe Paterno.