Penn State trustee Joel Myers had approved Joe Paterno tribute message

mdawson@centredaily.comMarch 28, 2014 

Penn State trustee Joel Myers was in favor of a mass email to the university community extolling Joe Paterno shortly after the coach’s death in January 2012 that was eventually canceled, Myers said Friday.

Newly released emails show that President Rodney Erickson sent to the board of trustees a draft of the email, which included praise for Paterno as someone who turned his players into “life-long learners and engaged citizens.” Trustees were asked for feedback.

However, on Jan. 26, 2012, the day before it was to be sent out, the trustees were informed the email was no-go.

Myers, who is up for re-election to an alumni seat on the board, dug his response out of his inbox after published reports this week revealed the plans for the tribute that were then ditched.

Myers said the emails that were published have not represented the full record on the matter.

Myers’ response to Erickson was simple: “Yes. Well done,” he wrote around 1 a.m. Jan. 26, 2012.

“I expected the tribute to be made, and supported it,” Myers said in a statement Friday. “I was informed the next day that President Erickson had decided not to issue the statement. I did not reverse course.”

The mass email would have been the third written remarks about Paterno from the university in the week after the coach’s death on Jan. 22, 2012.

The university issued a short statement the day Paterno died, which said in part, “We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university.”

That statement was updated July 23, 2012, the day the NCAA sanctions — including a $60 million fine and a postseason bowl ban — were imposed on the university for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Another tribute, 2,400 words long, was published a few days later and entitled “ Paterno’s impact spanned generations.”

The draft of Erickson’s statement was five paragraphs long. It said Paterno “did much more than prepare his players for athletic competition; he prepared them to be life-long learners and engaged citizens.” Erickson also referenced Paterno’s so-called Grand Experiment to combine academic and athletic excellence.

The hubbub over the emails underscore that Paterno, while more than two years passed, is an issue still very much alive in the board of trustees race that starts in two weeks.

Trustees fired Paterno on Nov. 9, 2011, for not fulfilling his moral obligations related to an incident involving Jerry Sandusky and a young boy that one of Paterno’s assistants reported to him. Paterno fulfilled his legal duties by reporting it to his boss, then-athletic director Tim Curley.

Myers is the only incumbent running for re-election, and he’s made other pro-Paterno statements in the past. Most recently, at a board meeting in January, he proposed a statute of the coach in front of the Paterno Library on campus.

A vocal group of alumni, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, have endorsed three candidates who each support recognition for Paterno as part of their platform.

And the day after the Paterno tribute emails were published, candidates in another group, Upward State, announced a proposal to have the university study the appropriate way to honor the coach.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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