And it's true that a football player can gain entrance to the main campus at State College while a non-athlete with identical grades might have to go to a satellite campus to earn the privilege of attending the mother institution. Once at Penn State, athletes get all the tutoring they require. Says Paterno, "I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of that we want to help." Frank Downing, the athletic academic adviser, says, "It all sounds too sweet. Icky. But all we do each day around here is go forth in our war against ignorance. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but we go on."
Once enrolled, football players must maintain the same standards and progress as other students. Rumors of undue athletic influence at Penn State have not been backed up with hard fact. But, if anything, Paterno gives up on players too quickly.
Bergstein once told Paterno a player had missed three classes.
"Did you have a talk with him?" asked Paterno.
"Yes, and I will again."
"If he doesn't measure up, flunk him," said Joe.
"Don't you want to know who he is?"
"He might be your star."
"Doesn't matter. If he doesn't measure up, flunk him. He'll infect the whole program."