These are dark times for Happy Valley. Penn State is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as the fallout continues from former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky's sex abuse scandal. Legendary Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno has been fired after reports surfaced that he failed to alert police in 2002 upon learning about an incident in which Sandusky allegedly sodomized a 10-year-old in the Penn State showers. Paterno's controversial firing is likely not the last reparation the university will have to make. How much more damage will the school suffer as the scandal unfolds? Here, five predictions:
1. The victims are likely to sue
The feds, the state attorney general, and the university board are all launching potentially damaging investigations. And expect civil lawsuits from Sandusky's eight victims, too, says Lester Munson at ESPN. The suits will likely target the school, its administrators, the athletic department officials, Paterno, "and anyone else... who helped enable Sandusky or who had a role in covering up what he allegedly did." The ordeal will ignite another round of damning news coverage, trigger more unsavory revelations, and cost the school tens of millions of dollars before the claims are resolved.
2. Fundraising will dry up
"In a matter of days," Penn State has "plummeted from being perceived as the cleanest, most ethical brand in college sports to the lowest of the lows," sports marketing agent Marc Ganis tells CNNMoney. "Moral breaches of this magnitude are not easily forgotten," and will have a huge effect on Penn State's fundraising. Former donors will be morally compelled to stop writing checks. And don't forget the Paterno factor. "The iconic figure was a magnet for fundraising. Now he's radioactive."
3. The football program's profits will plunge
Last season, Penn State was "one of the most lucrative sports teams in the country," raking in $72.7 million in football revenue, reports CNNMoney. Its profit of $53.2 million was second only to the University of Texas. Penn State also raked in an additional $24.1 million from merchandise sales and sponsorships, driven by the popularity of the Nittany Lions football squad. Now, however, the "brand is irrevocably tarnished," Ganis says. Fans will stop buying Penn State T-shirts, and sponsors will flee, too.
4. Penn State's team will be terrible for years
"Penn State football as we know it is officially over," says Chris Dufresne at the Los Angeles Times. Following the firing of Paterno, expect a "clean sweep" of the coaching staff, as no one with any ties to Sandusky can be a viable candidate to replace JoePa. (Interim coach Tom Bradley has been on Paterno's staff for 33 years.) It could take up to 10 years to rebuild the coaching staff from scratch. And recruiting, "for the foreseeable future, is shot." What parent would send their son "to a school that granted emeritus status to Sandusky?"
5. The team will lose on Saturday
Penn State will start seeing the negative effects of the scandal immediately, starting with the Nittany Lions' performance during Saturday's home game against Nebraska, sports psychologist Dr. Thomas Ferraro tells Fox News. "Athletes are human beings, they will be influenced by social events," he says. "How can there not be an impact?" It will be the first time since 1949 that Penn State will hit the field without Joe Paterno on its coaching staff. Though Bradley will try to "calm things down," it will be an arduous task to get the players to clear their minds and focus solely on the game.
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