Support Marketplace

Brand Penn State suffers a blow

Tom Bradley addresses the media after he was named interim head football coach at Penn State during a press conference at Beaver Stadium on Nov. 10, 2011 in State College, Penn.

Kai Ryssdal: Back here, State College, Penn., is still trying to sort out all that happened last night. Joe Paterno was fired; the president of Penn State was allowed to resign. Students rioted, trustees are trying to limit the damage and figure out where they go from here.

Marketplace's Gregory Warner has more from Philadelphia.


Gregory Warner: Joe Paterno and other superstar football coaches are not just coaches.

David Carter: They aren't coaches. They are their own brands, they are basically the university's top business development officer, the top salesperson.

David Carter directs the Sports Business Institute at USC. Penn State football brought in $53 million after expenses, second only to the University of Texas in profits. But Joe Paterno the brand was worth much more. And his football program -- at least until last week -- was scandal-free.

Carter: This pristine brand, run by someone who was respected on a national level, who also won consistently -- those are the kinds of things you can build a fundraising program around. Now going forward, the extent to which that has been compromised will play out over time.

Buzz Bissinger is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the author of "Friday Night Lights," a book about a town and its obsession with high school football. He says as much as Joe Paterno swelled Penn State's coffers, he also overshadowed the school's true worth.

Buzz Bissinger: The fact of the matter is, Penn State is an extremely good school academically. But you go outside of Pennsylvania and you ask people: What do you know about Penn State? Joe Paterno. It sucks from the rest of the school.

Bissinger hopes this scandal might even be an opportunity. Imagine the university becoming more famous for its Nobel laureates than its touchdowns. But rebranding a half-century of Paterno will be a hard. As the man himself once famously said, "It's not the name on the back of the jersey that matters, it's the name on the front."

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...