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Penn State football lettermen chief says group apolitical, Paul Suhey never asked for endorsement

The president of the Penn State Football Letterman’s Club moved Tuesday to distance the official organization from some members’ statements concerning former Nittany Lion player Dr. Paul Suhey, who is running for re-election to the university’s board of trustees.

A letter from 11 former Penn State players urged colleagues to oppose Suhey’s bid to keep his seat on the board because of the trustees’ decision to remove Joe Paterno from his coaching position when the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit in November 2011.

Suhey has been a trustee for 12 years.

“The Penn State Football Letterman’s Club is an organization comprised of almost 1,000 lettermen,” President Justin Kurpeikis said in a memo distributed by Penn State football spokesman Jeff Nelson.

“As is true with any group of this size, it is reasonable to believe that there are differing opinions among our membership,” Kurpeikis said, “and they are free to make public endorsements and offer support to candidates in elections.”

The original letter challenging Suhey was titled “Success With Honor” and carried the names of lettermen Todd Blackledge (1982), Robert Capretto (’67), Tom Donchez (’74), Franco Harris (’72), Justin Ingram (’00), Christian Marrone (’97), Brian Masella (’94), Lydell Mitchell (’72), Michael Robinson (’04), Steve Smear (’69) and Brandon Short (’99).

Masella, in an interview Monday with the Centre Daily Times, said Suhey approached the lettermen for support in his campaign “and we said no.”

Suhey denied seeking the group’s support in his re-election bid.

Kurpeikis said the club had not been asked to support any trustees candidates.

“It is important to note that we have not been approached for an endorsement,” Kurpeikis said in the statement. “Any other endorsement/opinion is in no way an official position of the Penn State Football Letterman’s Club.

“We have always been and remain an apolitical organization and anything reported to the contrary is inaccurate and false.”

Suhey and board Vice Chairwoman Stephanie Deviney are seeking re-election to the board of trustees and are among 39 candidates for three alumni seats. Another seat has been open since Steve Garban stepped down last summer.

On Monday, former Penn State All-American and ESPN football analyst Matt Millen said of the ex-players’ statement opposing Suhey: “I don’t think that letter expressed the opinions of all of the lettermen.”

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