Regions Northern Virginia

Social media analysis finds Penn State fans ready for change

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Arlington-based New Media Strategies says that, before his firing Wednesday night, Penn State fans supported the retirement of its legendary football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of a sex scandal involving a former assistant.

The firm analyzed social media discussions about the scandal, finding an estimated 64 percent of conversations were in favor of Paterno’s retirement.

Paterno, 84, said Wednesday afternoon that he planned to step down at the end of the season after leading the Penn State football program for 46 years. However, the university’s board of trustees fired Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier that night.

New Media Strategies drew its conclusions after examining about 20,000 discussions about the scandal on Nov. 5-9 on Penn State-oriented communities, websites, Facebook pages and Twitter, as well as in message boards and blogs

Jerry Sandusky, a longtime defensive coordinator under Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys. Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999, met the victims through a charity he had established for troubled youths, prosecutors say.

Penn State’s athletic director and a university vice president have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse in connection with the case.
In 2002, Paterno passed on to the athletic director a report of possible child abuse involving Sandusky but failed to follow up on the incident.


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