Retire Paul Suhey–Lettermen Request!


March 28, 2013

Dear Fellow Lettermen,

We write to you about a matter of great importance to our University. As fellow Lettermen and alumni of the Pennsylvania State University we, like the rest of the Nation, were horrified by the actions of Jerry Sandusky. No words that we or anyone else can say will ever heal Sandusky’s victims, their families or the damage that he caused other than to say our thoughts and prayers remain with them.  Also horrifying has been the ensuing damage inflicted to the standing of our University due in large part to the failure of the Board of Trustees. It is for this reason that we are compelled to step forward and oppose Paul Suhey’s re-election to the Board. We take this action with the full understanding of the division this may cause amongst us. It is not a role we relish but, it is one we believe is necessary to prevent any further damage to our University.

At nearly every turn over the past sixteen months, the Board of Trustees has failed miserably to exercise the necessary leadership and responsibility to guide our University.  No greater illustration is the Board’s handling of Joe and the Freeh Report. While admittedly not knowing all of the facts, the Board unanimously rushed to judgment and fired Joe after 62 years of service to the University without ever once talking with him. Similarly, the Board to this very day has failed to discuss the substance of the Freeh report let alone question its evidentiary basis or lack thereof. The consequences of these actions have severely tarnished the reputation and legacy of Coach Paterno and have brought great harm upon the University, our beloved program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room.

In the coming days, you will no doubt hear how Paul Suhey disagreed with these actions but cannot tell “his side” for legal reasons or how knew Joe as “Uncle Joe”. To this we say nonsense! Actions speak louder than words and if Suhey disagreed with the actions the Board was taking he had both an obligation and a duty to speak up and cast his vote accordingly. The fact that he failed to do so only underscores the point that he is not fit to serve on the board a day longer. The choice is for everyone to make but, for us it could not be any clearer – retire Paul Suhey, like he claimed to retire Joe, by not re-electing him.

Todd Blackledge’82

Robert Capretto ’67

Tom Donchez ’74

Franco Harris ’72

Justin Ingram ’00

Christian Marrone ’97

 Brian Masella ’74 Lydell Mitchell ’72

Michael Robinson ‘04

Steve Smear ’69

Brandon Short ’99



Harris Effort Not About Football Legacy


by Bradley Mitchell

Franco Harris’s efforts to get to the truth are not about restoring a football legacy. It’s about correcting a huge public misperception about the Penn State culture and Joe Paterno.The real culture of Penn State is one of academic and athletic excellence with integrity and character — a uniting culture of genuine pride and worthy reverence for alumni, students, faculty and staff.Ironically, the man who consistently, tirelessly and relentlessly led the efforts to build this differentiating culture for 61 years was a football coach.How many universities have a libraries named after football coaches and athletic arenas named after former university presidents?Penn Staters are excited about our culture because Penn State does it differently — does it the right way, with legitimate student athletes, students who are here for an education and happen to play sports.In response to editor Chip Minemyer’s cheap shot (“Franco Harris should use voice to support PSU beyond football,” CDT, Sunday), it wasn’t that Harris was afraid to take a hit; he knew when and how to take a hit. Running out of bounds and perhaps avoiding injury in favor of a longer and more productive life with no diminution in his football performance, Harris underscores my point: The Penn State culture produces smart people with character, and some of them, like Harris, happen to be great athletesHarris obviously believes courageous leadership in the face of public criticism is a hit worth taking in our quest for the truth and setting the record straight. I do, too.


Mark Emmert Has No Grasp of Penn State Facts

By John Zieger,

Franco asked Emmert how he could find Joe Paterno “guilty” for covering up the 1998 and 2001 instances when Jerry Sandusky himself had been found “not guilty” for the same episodes (in 1998 an investigation brought no charges and Sandusky was acquitted at trial for the Mike McQueary “rape” allegation). Emmert’s ensuing response, or, more accurately, non-response, spoke volumes about the credibility of the NCAA sanctions.

Emmert made some extraordinary statements.

He greatly diminished his own role in the sanctions (which he physically signed). He seemed to indicate that thought that the Freeh Report had somehow “read” 3.5 million documents and that Freeh had far more “authority” than he really did (Freeh didn’t even speak to any of the five people closest to the case). He even seemed to be under the delusion that Franco Harris, who famously played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, may have been on the 1998 Penn State team which was the first to, illogically, have its wins stripped.

But the most stunning statement Emmert made was that “no one” at Penn State was found “guilty” or even mentioned specifically by the NCAA, and that they did not take away Joe Paterno’s all-time wins record. He really said those things. Just listen to the recording.

If “no one” at Penn State was found “guilty,” then why was the school punished so severely? If Paterno was not specifically referenced, or didn’t have his record taken away, why does page 5 in the “punitive” section of the NCAA consent decree, clearly state, “the career record of Coach Joe Paterno will reflect the vacated records”?  The president of NCAA, who literally signed off on the worst sanctions in college football history against Penn State, didn’t even have a firm grasp on the basic facts of the case. Of all the many indignities that Joe Paterno has suffered in the year since his last birthday on earth, in some ways nothing has been worse than being convicted by people who didn’t even give him basic due process or the simple respect to have all the facts (or, in Emmert’s case, even have the courage to admit he had indeed been found “guilty”)?


Rally Set for September 15–Penn State’s Mishandling of Scandal!

Penn State supporters will take their issues with the university’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal to the public with an on-campus rally Sept. 15.

The rally is set for 10 a.m. on the Old Main lawn. The gathering falls the day after the trustees will be meeting on campus and the same day the Nittany Lions will play Navy in a home football game with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Franco Harris, an outspoken defender of Paterno and critic of the board, is expected to be one of the speakers at the rally.  Rally organizers plan to use the event to call on trustees and other officials to step down. The reasons cited in event fliers and on Facebook is the board’s lack of crisis planning following a March 2011 newspaper report about a grand jury looking into Sandusky and the board’s acceptance of the Freeh investigation findings this summer.  Those involved also would like to see President Rodney Erickson and Gov. Tom Corbett resign.

Those involved would like board members to admit publicly that they made mistakes.

Shakeup at Penn State might — or might not — cause renewed interest in board of trustees election

written by Jeff Frantz, Harrisburg Patriot News

Welcome to the political science experiment that is the Penn State board of trustees election.

Will there be a few thousand voters or half a million?

No one knows.

Will those voters know more than a handful of the 86 candidates or what they stand for?

No clue.

Will the alumni casting ballots be motivated by Joe Paterno’s firing, which brought protests online and at town hall meetings? Or will they care about issues impacting tomorrow’s students, such as tuition, research and academic reputation?

Flip a coin.

Does the record number of candidates mean alumni angered by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal will turn out in droves? Or will the passing months, and new board leadership, be enough for alumni to once again become complacent observers of the university?

No one is sure what will happen April 10 when alumni begin voting for three of the 32 seats on Penn State’s board.

Individual candidates — and groups of candidates — have been working tirelessly since December to win a spot on a board that is increasingly questioned about its power structure and transparency. They’ve started websites and held meet-and-greets. They’ve raised questions about one another’s fitness to serve.

One candidate even aired a TV commercial.

One group endorsing candidates — Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship — and one group of candidates — Penn State Alumni Trustee-Choice — established themselves early. Both strongly support the Paterno family. Their names come up repeatedly among the most-likely voters.

How much of an advantage is that really?

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship’s Facebook page has less than 4,600 friends. The three Penn State Alumni Trustee-Choice candidates with dedicated campaign Facebook pages each have less than 100 people “liking” them.

More than 100,000 Penn State alumni association members automatically will receive ballots, and any nonmember alumni can request one. Everyone guesses there will be more votes than in recent elections, when around 10,000 alumni cast ballots, but nobody knows how many more.

How much support will a candidate really need?

Maybe less than you think, said Christopher Borick, a professor of political science at Muhlenberg and a Penn State graduate.

“As much as [alumni] are invested, it’s still not going to probably be the type of turnout where a majority of alumni cast ballots,” Borick said.

Voting advocates are thrilled when they get 50 percent turnout for a presidential election, Borick said. Alumni traditionally ignore the trustee election. Anything close to 50 percent turnout would be a surprise, he said.

If the votes get spread out across the field, a candidate could win with a relatively low percentage of voters.

Alumni probably will scan the daunting list of names for people they know, Borick said, and then people they recognize. If they haven’t picked their three candidates yet, they’ll look for people who graduated in the same year, people who live in the same area or work in the same field. If trends from traditional elections hold, some women will want to pick a woman candidate, Borick said.

Name recognition will be huge. If a candidate isn’t well known for something such as playing football for Paterno, his or her best bet is probably to join a group.

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship formed as a group of alumni who wanted to change the board but focused their public rhetoric around Paterno’s firing. More than 50 people asked for the group’s endorsement. The three people it ultimately backed all wrote about the need to apologize to the Paterno family in their official position statements. One of them, Anthony Lubrano, has traveled the state with Franco Harris demanding justice for the legendary coach.

They enjoy a first-mover advantage in claiming to be the most righteous Paterno defenders on the ballot.

Could it backfire?

The majority of candidates focused their position papers on keeping Penn State affordable while restoring its worldwide brand as an elite university. With another state-funding debate looming in Harrisburg and the current board having discussed a private-school model with Cornell, might alumni be more focused on what’s next?

Perhaps, Borick said. But who knows if those people will show up?

The alumni focused on Paterno? They could be the all-important base.

“I can’t only talk about [Paterno], but I certainly make that the focus of my outreach efforts,” Borick said. “If you want to reach out to the masses, and those masses were engaged because of this issue, your sales pitch on it is crucial.”

The Paterno issue has caused some friction among the candidates.

“He was a fabulous football coach, and he did fabulous things for Penn State,” candidate Jayne Miller said. “For that to be the sole issue for someone to get on the board of trustees — if anything, it misses the point of what this university faces.”

More than 50 people asked for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship’s endorsement. More than 20 of those endorsement seekers ran even after they were passed over.

They complain that the group now censors its Facebook page, and tries to control information such as the current trustees. The group counters that it is simply promoting its message.

Getting good information has been an issue. Penn State did not let the candidates include a website with their 250-word biography or position statement. The student radio station has interviewed some candidates and streams those sessions online.

Penn State now is hosting a meet-and-greet for candidates during Blue-White weekend, when thousands of alumni return to campus for the spring football game. But with the event being held in the center of campus, a decent walk from the stadium, turnout is uncertain.

The alumni association also has asked each candidate to answer three questions. It will post the answers on its website the day before voting begins. None of the questions address the board’s handling of the Sandusky investigation or the ensuing scandal.

Nikos Phelps, the president of the Harrisburg Chapter of the alumni association, said alumni seem interested to him but aren’t sure how they will approach the ballot.

“I think [turnout] will be half-decent,” Phelps said. “The question is, with that many candidates, is it feasible for anyone to do their homework?”

Voting will continue until May 3.

What’s next for the 84 losers? For many, May 4 is the beginning of campaign 2013.

“It will show who’s committed to the cause,” candidate Marlene “Myke” Atwater Triebold said.

Maybe by then, we might have a better idea how this experiment works.