STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State University officials on Thursday said they will donate 1.5 million in bowl proceeds to a pair of sex-crime advocacy organizations in the wake of shocking sex-abuse allegations levied against a once-revered assistant football coach. University President Rod Erickson promised the donation the morning after he and other administrators faced pointed questions at a student-organized town hall forum. Erickson told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that the Big Ten bowl revenue, which usually goes back to the athletic department, will go instead to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. "This presents an excellent opportunity for Penn State to raise the national visibility of this issue," Erickson said. "Our students and fans are focused on a cause to play for, to cheer for." Also Thursday, Jerry Sandusky's lawyer said he has not discussed pleading guilty with his client and that the former coach continues to maintain he is innocent of the charges against him. Joe Amendola said he would consider "possible alternatives" with Sandusky if new charges are filed that involve more victims than the eight boys covered by the 40 pending criminal counts, but that Sandusky has never considered a plea in his case. Sandusky, 67, is awaiting a preliminary hearing. Amendola said the topic of a guilty plea came up as a "what-if" question from a reporter about potential additional charges. "My answer to the what if' question was analogous to saying, if weather forecasters were predicting a blizzard next week, which they are not, I would have to at least consider the possibility of postponing my scheduled trip to Philadelphia," Amendola said in an email. The Wednesday night forum on Penn State's main campus came on the heels of fresh sex abuse allegations against Sandusky, who was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a young boy more than 100 times after meeting him through the charity the coach founded in the 1970s. The state police commissioner has criticized school leaders for failing to do more to alert authorities to the allegations, and Erickson told about 450 attendees at a crowded auditorium at the student union building that ethics would be raised "to a new level so that everyone at the university understands not just the legal thing to do, but the moral thing to do, so that we learn to do the right thing the first time, every time." Students appeared grateful to get answers more than three weeks after Sandusky was charged Nov. 5, hopeful it would aid in the arduous healing process. "I think this is a good start for a lot of good things that can happen at the university," said student Andrew Comes, 21, following the two-hour forum. "It's a singularly bad event, but there can still be positive repercussions and good things happening from it." Administrators sought to reassure students worried about the unintended ramifications of the scandal, such as the reputation of a Penn State degree. After several questioners mentioned they felt shamed by the scandal, vice president Henry Foley, as part of an answer about the school's top three priorities, told students to focus on academics and to "recognize that none of you are guilty. ... You may feel shame, but none of you are guilty. Just keep doing what you came here to do." The scandal has resulted in the departures of head coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university's police department, has stepped down. Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police. They also maintain their innocence and have a preliminary hearing later this month. Erickson told reporters after the forum that Spanier was currently on sabbatical, and that as a tenured faculty member would have the right to teach if he so desired. Several students also asked about the treatment of Paterno, who was the only school leader fired in the scandal's aftermath. Erickson said afterward he could not offer a detailed answer because it was the trustees' decision. He reiterated there was no truth to Internet-fueled rumors that Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium would be removed, or that the Paterno name would be removed from the campus library for which the Paterno family has donated millions. "At some appropriate time down the road, I'm sure there will be an opportunity to also reflect on the many years of service Joe and (wife Sue Paterno) provided the university and the many good things that they've done for Penn State," Erickson said, eliciting brief applause.
Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.
When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.
“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”
This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.
Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.
Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.
“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”
Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.
“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.
"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”
That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.
They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.
One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.
“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”