It stands to reason that the new Penn State men’s and women’s hockey programs will be affected in at least some way by the sex abuse scandal that has enveloped the school and athletic department.
The school’s president, Graham Spanier, who appeared at the introductory press conference for the program last September, is out. Athletic director Tim Curley is on leave and facing perjury charges. So a new-look administration awaits the hockey programs when they start Division I play next fall.
But it appears the development of the programs and the arena they will share will not be halted. Terry Pegula, whose $88 million donation is funding the men’s program and the arena, to be named the Pegula Ice Arena, has told Penn State officials that his family’s commitment is “as strong as ever.”
That’s according to Joe Battista, the associate athletic director for ice arena and hockey development, who responded to an email by first acknowledging that hearts are heavy for the victims and their families.
The Penn State men’s program is scheduled to start varsity play next season before joining what will be a six-team Big Ten league in 2013-14. The women’s team also is ready to start next season as a member of the CHA.
Pegula Ice Arena is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.
UPDATE: Pegula released a statement through the Buffalo Sabres, which he owns. Here is the full text:
The events that are unfolding at Penn State University are deeply troubling and a matter of great concern to me and my wife Kim. As many have expressed, our primary concern is for the individuals and families who may have been victimized.
Penn State’s reputation has been severely tarnished. We are encouraged to see the University trustees have begun the process of restoring integrity and trust in the institution. This process will take a period of time and trust will need to be re-earned as a result of these recent disclosures.
Penn State is supported by millions of students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators. Our own support for Penn State and its hockey program is well known and will continue. We expect the University will carry out its educational mission with high standards and integrity.