After the publication of a Sports Illustrated story, Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano was quoted as saying: “The fear is that in becoming more like the NFL, there might be more of a rush to get the student back on the field. Is that a risk we’re willing to take?”
Without asking for clarification or context, many jumped to the defense of coach Bill O’Brien, saying Lubrano didn’t know what he was talking about, that decisions made about the football program were none of his business, and even calling his comments “stupid [expletive]” and asking for a public apology to O’Brien.
While I support the coach 100 percent and agree he has a right to make changes to his program, it’s outrageous to deny Lubrano the right to ask questions about those changes.
Lubrano was elected by the alumni to act as trustee for the university. If he has concerns relating to the university, its student body or staff, he has a right and a responsibility to ask questions and gain understanding.
If all trustees had been as engaged as Lubrano, perhaps our position today would be different.
We’ve spent more than 18 months shouting that we are not a community with a “football culture” problem. The day we start calling for an elected trustee to apologize for making inquiries of the athletic director and football coach is the day we become exactly who we have said we are not.