“For the Penn State Board of Trustees, one of the justifications for firing Joe Paterno was that, if he had coached Saturday’s game against Nebraska, a nation’s attention would be focused on a potential enabler of sexual abuse wandering the sideline, representing Penn State on a very public stage. The spectacle could have further damaged the reputation of the school. So removing him now was the sensible move.”
Read more: Read the entire story at Time.com
In the wake of his firing, we can dissect this decision from a reputation standpoint. Taking a “reputation inventory” we can look at how Penn State’s Board of Trustees handled this and how it negatively impacted their reputation. We can break their mistakes into three main areas;
1) Methodology – They fired him over the phone. Plain and simple a head scratcher right there. A coach of his stature deserves at least a personal meeting.
2) Timing – Why did they fire him at 10:00 pm? Your chances of rioting and chaos decrease during the daytime. Students will be in class and hopefully busier. This could have waited until the morning. By firing him via phone at 10:00 pm they created the spectacle they were so focused on avoiding and ended up damaging the reputation of the school anyway.
3) Make a decision and stick with it, but don’t make a decision too early – Originally it was decided Paterno would be able to retire at season’s end. That was the company line and then within a few hours he was fired. As we mentioned in a previous post, in a case like this it is vital to appear in control. Make an informed decision and stick with it. Do not change your public position multiple times.
Penn State’s Board of Trustees severely botched the firing of beloved coach Joe Paterno. We know that to be a fact. They have created a much steeper hill to climb in order for them to get out of this reputation disaster. We will be following this story closely in the next few months and blogging about how they are rebuilding, check back for more!