UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State alumni Franco Harris and Anthony Lubrano continued assailing the board of trustees’ decision to fire head coach Joe Paterno, saying Friday that supporters will not forget the board’s action.
“I think they underestimate the resolve of core Penn Staters,” Lubrano said during a meeting after the trustees session. “Time is on their side. We can’t sit back and do nothing.”
The forum at the Nittany Lion Inn, attended by about 100 people, was part of the “Real Talk with Franco” series that started last week. Harris and Lubrano held the sessions after Penn State-sponsored alumni town halls in Pittsburgh and suburban Philadelphia.
The tone Friday, as it was last week, was fervent that the board
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decided too quickly to fire Paterno, who was relieved of his duties during a late-night phone call Nov. 9. Trustees said Paterno did not fulfill his moral obligation in responding to a report that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary had witnessed what appeared to be a sexual assault on a boy in 2002 by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Harris called on supporters to send a message to the university, either “through communication or financially.”
Trustees this week have said they agonized over terminating Paterno. But they said it was the only choice they had and maintain they made the best decision they could at the time.
Friday, Harris said Paterno was a conduit in reporting the incident up the Penn State hierarchy to his boss, former athletic director Tim Curley, who reported it to now-retired senior administrator Gary Schultz.
Curley and Schultz face perjury charges that they lied to a grand jury about their knowledge of that 2002 incident, which was never reported to law enforcement authorities.
But, Harris said, Paterno “took the brunt of it and the most damaging of it all.” He added: “We cannot let (the board) write this last chapter.”
Harris and Lubrano want to replace all nine alumni-elected board seats with their supporters and then work to restructure the board, which consists of 32 seats. Lubrano is seeking one of the three seats open this election.
Harris also repeated what he said at his counter-rallies to Penn State’s alumni town halls last week: that President Rodney Erickson should rehire Paterno and let him coach the first four games of the 2012 season before transitioning to head coach Bill O’Brien.
Their supporters railed against the board, too.
One man, who didn’t identify himself, proposed the idea of filing a lawsuit in Centre County Court to replace the board. “They voted unanimously and they ought to be replaced unanimously,” he said.
A woman, who didn’t give her name, said trustees operated in the dark.
“To us, that is something that really, really makes us question them,” Harris responded. “And they don’t understand why we question them on that.”
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.