The university president stood up in front of 107,818 people at Beaver Stadium on Saturday and a steady shout of boos echoed from section to section.
Rodney Erickson, who walked onto the field at halftime as a way to honor all of the colleges within our university, was greeted with his own community booing him.
Regardless of people’s opinions on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case or how Erickson handled the National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctions, he should not have been booed.
He stood up to celebrate academics, accomplishments and degrees.
And what happened? Some people sent the message, intentionally or unintentionally, that we don’t support what he was — literally — standing for.
Over the past year, Erickson has taken on a difficult job that has centered around controversial topics. So, when people boo the president for a making tough decisions in the face of adversity, what does that say to the world?
Erickson will not remain president forever. So, what do these types of actions say those who might be the candidate to replace him?
Whether you choose to support Erickson as a president or not is up to you, but humiliating him in front of all watching at Beaver Stadium and on national television crossed the line.
This action is a step beyond just disagreeing with Erickson’s leadership, and it send a bad message. It not only shows an unsupportive community to potential candidates, but it also displays Penn State in a grim light.
We say our university is not centered around football, yet at a football game we booed our president as he walked onto the field to represent our academic success.
The praise of academics was literally drowned out by boos of a football-related decision. It says to the world that football is still prioritized over the classroom.
For those of you who did boo — students and alumni — it’s time to put your differences aside and make the distinction between your support for your school or your alma mater, and your opinion on Erickson’s decisions in the past year.
It’s time to recognize moments, like Saturday’s, that you can agree with some of Erickson’s values and still disagree with how he handled the sanctions.
Our academics are something to cheer for, not boo. Our university and our degrees are something to be proud of — not spiteful about.
The Penn State community needs to remember and understand that as more moments like this arise. Undoubtedly, Erickson will continue to make more appearances.
Do not give the media, or those watching from the outside, any reason to say our school is too focused on football and unsupportive of academics.