‘We knew Joe’: Penn State lettermen to address trustees

mdawson@centredaily.comMarch 13, 2013 

Some 30 Penn State lettermen are planning to roast the university’s board of trustees at their meeting Friday afternoon in Hershey.

The lettermen have registered to speak during the public comment period during the meeting, and they plan to hold a press conference after the meeting.

“We want to look the trustees in the eyes and tell them that their actions over the last 16 months have brought great harm upon Penn State, our beloved program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room,” Brian Masella, a tight end and punter from 1971 to 1975, said in a statement.

The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in Room 302 of the University Fitness and Conference Center at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center.

The players hope to secure all 10 slots during the public comment session in the hope of persuading the trustees to reconsider the conclusions of the Freeh report and the unprecedented NCAA sanctions.

The board just began offering a public comment period this academic year, and university spokesman David La Torre said the “(b)oard looks forward to hearing from all parties who will speak.”

Maribeth Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said the group also wants to know when former head coach Joe Paterno will be recognized.

“Now that Sue Paterno has come forward with the exceptional and thorough work of Gov. Dick Thornburgh, FBI expert Jim Clemente and attorney Wick Sollers, we stand united with her and her family in decrying the absurd conclusions of Louis Freeh,” the players said in a news release. “He didn’t know Joe.

“We knew Joe.”

The players’ statement said the trustees should have had the courage to speak to Paterno in November 2011 before forcing him out as the coach.

Trustee and former Nittany Lion lettermen Paul Suhey disputed that Paterno was fired and said the coach was “retired three weeks early.”

Suhey said the board regrets that it was carried out by a phone call.

“People are still so hurt by that, and you know, damn it, we screwed it up,” Suhey said.

The terms are up this year for Suhey and fellow alumni trustee Stephanie Deviney, who are facing a hostile environment for re-election.

The Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship group has taken out attack ads targeting Suhey and Deviney, urging alumni to vote them out of office. They are among a field of 39 candidates seeking three spots.

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