Penn State projected up to 84 scholarship players in 2015

James Franklin When Penn State was slammed with a significant reduction in scholarships in 2011 it was expected to take about a decade before Penn State could get back to full strength, if it ever did. Times have changed rather quickly for Penn State’s football program as the NCAA has scaled back and rescinded sanction terms following positive annual reviews from George Mitchell and ongoing legal battles. Now, on the eve of National Signing Day, Penn State is currently projected to have a roster with 84 scholarships filled in 2015.

This is the first full recruiting class Penn State has been able to attempt to fill since being hit with sanctions by the NCAA. The NCAA restored some scholarships in time for last season’s recruiting class to be put together, but this is the first 25-scholarship limit Penn State has had. It was filled today with new breaking Tuesday afternoon Penn State had flipped linebacker Kevin Givens from Pittsburgh to Penn State. He is Penn State’s 25th member of the Class of 2015, which includes three early enrollees this semester and a junior college transfer with junior eligibility.

With a full set of scholarships filled in the Class of 2015, Penn State is now back to a 84-scholarship roster. The work and planning done previously under Bill O’Brien seems to have paid off in this respect by helping to make this a possibility. Penn State will have 12 players with senior eligibility this season, 17 with junior eligibility and 16 with sophomore eligibility. Penn State had 15 players redshirted last season that will be eligible to play this year, bringing the total to 60 scholarship players returning in the fall.

Penn State may have filled all 84 scholarships allowed by the NCAA, but it is still going to be another year or two before Penn State is taking the field with a full active roster of scholarship players. Penn State will have 84 scholarship players, but how many of the incoming Class of 2015 players sit out with a redshirt this fall remains unknown. Roster management will continue to be key for James Franklin and his staff.

Penn State is locking down the second-ranked class in the Big Ten, trailing only defending national champion Ohio State.

Correction: This story previously claimed Penn State would have 85 scholarships. It has been edited to more accuarely detail the 84 scholarships on roster.

Child Abuse Program Underwritten by Sue Paterno

Scott Paterno said, “is my dad’s life becomes a really useful tool to have a broader discussion of both how we address these types of problems, how we train people to see them and everything else.”

“These types of problems,” in this case, are the Jerry Sanduskys of the world.

Last spring, Stop It Now!, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that works to prevent child sexual abuse, began a pilot program with the 14 state universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to train university employees who work with minors on campus on how to create safer conditions for children and prevent them from being victimized.

The 149 employees included administrators, faculty, counselors, athletic directors, legal counsel, communication director, students — basically, anyone who might deal with the summer camps that many schools host. They are trained to look for the signs of “nice-guy predators,” because that is the profile of the Sanduskys who prey on children. They appear to be respectable members of the community. They mentally seduce their peer adults. Then they seduce the children around them.

The news release said that Stop It Now! created the pilot program “through the generosity of a donor.” That donor is underwriting the $240,000 to fund the pilot program. That donor is Sue Paterno, Joe’s widow and the one-time matriarch of the entire Penn State community.

“You can look at it,” Scott Paterno said, “and say, hey, look, here’s a guy who tried to do in every other instance, every other documented instance, tried to do the right thing to the best of his ability,'” Scott said. “And here’s this one situation, we can debate whether or not he could have done more. But let’s not debate the fact that had he been equipped with better understanding, had he known exactly what he was dealing with, had he been trained to see what he was dealing with, had he been told how to handle this particular problem, would have dealt with it.”

This spring, Stop It Now! and the PASSHE system will hear assessments of the pilot program, both from participants and an independent evaluator based at the University of New Hampshire. The hope is to expand the program beyond the borders of Pennsylvania.

“Our evaluations are showing that it’s an effective program,” said Deb Donovan Rice, executive director of Stop It Now! “We’re real happy with what’s being accomplished. It wouldn’t have ever happened without Scott and Sue and the whole Paterno family.”

To the people who look at what happened at Penn State and are sure they would have been able to see what Jerry Sandusky hid in plain sight for 35 years, the pilot program may look like an attempt at penance — too little, too late. As if the motivation to stop child sexual abuse, to prevent another college community from enduring what Penn State has endured, isn’t enough.

Call it what you will. But while the rest of us pointed fingers and debated and dithered and pulled out our righteous indignation, Sue Paterno tried to solve the problem. As it turns out, locating the legacy of Joe Paterno on the road to redemption isn’t hard at all.

THON fundraisers scheduled across country

 Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association’s monthly member e-newsletter.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — THON doesn’t happen just throughout one February weekend each year. It’s a yearlong effort by thousands of students — and thousands of supportive alumni.

Penn State’s 46-hour IFC Panhellenic Dance Marathon is set for Feb. 20 to 22 at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park. Last year, a record-total of $13.3 million was raised for THON, bringing the total raised in the history of the event to more than $114 million for Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Alumni volunteers go all out for THON. They host events, send care packages and mail to dancers and support Penn State students who are canning in their communities. Read an article in last month’s issue of AlumnInsider about the recent Volunteer Awards, many of which recognized the extraordinary efforts of Alumni Association affiliate groups and individuals supporting THON.

The theme for THON 2015 is “Empower the Dreamers.”

In Pennsylvania, Washington and Greene counties will hold their annual celebration, We Too Can Dance, on April 11. Below are dates for additional upcoming fundraisers across the country.

– Atlanta, Diamonds Over Georgia, Feb. 7

– Pittsburgh, Blue White Ball, Feb. 7

– New York City, Hope Gala, Feb. 28

– Los Angeles, Lights. Camera. Cure., March 21

– Philadelphia, Liberty Ball, Jan. 24

Many other alumni groups hold fundraisers for THON. From THON nights at various professional hockey matches to baseball games to raffles and auctions to golf outings, Penn State alumni chapters across the country are busy year-round raising money for THON and Four Diamonds.

Find out what your local chapter is doing to support THON. Or, donate directly to THON via the students’ website. Shop online at the THON Store for THON apparel, accessories and gifts, all of which benefits Four Diamonds.

For more information on THON 2015, visit


Penn State Football Gains Recognition for Scholastic Excellence

Penn State football was honored for its success in the classroom yet again, receiving an honorable mention in the American Football Coaches Association’s annual Academic Achievement Award Survey.

The Nittany Lions were honored for the 23rd time by the AFCA after posting a Graduation Success Rate of 87 percent, good for second in the Big Ten behind Northwestern and No. 5 among all public FBS programs, according to the NCAA.

Penn State’s GSR was 16 points higher than the national average of 71 percent. Penn State was honored by the AFCA for having a GSR of 75 percent or better for student athletes that were freshmen during the 2007-2008 academic year under then-head coach, Joe Paterno.

Penn State has now received recognition from the AFCA 23 times, tied for No. 3 all-time with Rice and behind only Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at 24 apiece. The Nittany Lions’ all-time total of 63 Academic All-America football honorees ranks second nationally, while their 18 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans over the past nine years (16 first-team selections) leads the nation.

This comes on the heels of another strong year for Penn State football in the classroom. 51 players received a 3.0 GPA or better in the fall semester and set a program record with 25 members on the Dean’s List. Prior to Penn State’s thrilling win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl, a Big Ten Conference-high 16 members of the football team had earned their degrees to rank in the top 10 percent among all FBS institutions.

Hopefully the success continues in the classroom for the Nittany Lions to keep the positive trend going.

Photo: OS Admin

Lest We Forget–The Surma Brother’s Vendetta to Get Joe Paterno

Vic Surma, Sr, ( a Pittsburgh Dentist)wrote  in 2007–(Vic Surma, Jr, came to PSU to play as walk on–did not go well)

“The RAT (Paterno) has hurt so many young men, destroyed their self esteem, ruined their confidence, etc.

I’m starting with a Pittsburgh reporter (Sara Ganim was main source quoted in Freeh report) and hope to take his fraud national.”

The person who started the implosion that put Penn State on the defensive by using Tom Corbett’s (PA governor and former attorney general) plan of distraction of firing Joe Paterno was John P Surma, younger brother of Victor Surma, Sr. and VP of the Board of Trustees. John P Surma was responsible for the cancelling of the press conference Joe Paterno was holding to explain what he did, when, and why. John P Surma, after cancelling Paterno’s press conference, made it clear that it was his intention to have Paterno fired so the board would finally show Joe who was “really in charge.”

This cancellation fueled media speculation that the Board of Trustees would remove Paterno as head coach. Nothing could have had a greater impact on the public’s view of the guilt or innocence of Joe Paterno or Penn State. We know that the attorney general used blatant lies “that Paterno was informed of a blatant sex act by McQueary–which we now know is false. 


Penn State Magazine Questions Penn State President

Penn State president Eric Barron addressed the media for about 20 minutes this afternoon, talking about the agreement that repeals the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State. Here are a few of his comments:

—”I’m pleased we can close this chapter,” he said, “and look ahead to the important challenges and opportunities that face Penn State.”

—In addressing “a few key details” of the agreement, he mentioned that the $60 million fine imposed on Penn State “remains in the state of Pennsylvania, first and foremost.” Of that, $48 million goes to the Commonwealth, and the other $12 million “will remain at Penn State, to create an endowment, which is a long-term investment in [programs] … to help eradicate child abuse.”

—Asked about the fate of the Paterno statue, and other calls for Penn State to honor Joe Paterno’s career, Barron said: “Those who know me know that I prefer not to talk about things that will be a topic of discussion [publicly] … before chatting with lots of people. [But] there will be a time and place.”

—Asked what becomes of the Big Ten sanctions, including the sharing of football bowl revenues, Barron pointed out that the Big Ten is a party to the Athletics Integrity Agreement that will be renegotiated under the terms of the settlement. “I will discuss it with my fellow presidents,” Barron said. “They’re expecting that discussion to occur.”

—Barron was asked if, with the 2012 consent decree now erased, this might be a good time for academia to take a fresh look at the NCAA and its powers. “Hindsight is a fascinating thing,” Barron began. “I’ve talked to many of my fellow presidents, and did so to my ACC representative when I was at Florida State, suggesting that the NCAA moved too quickly. At the same time, they came to their decisions with the best possible motive—of not wanting to have such things occur, and with the notion that they had a responsibility to look … at institutional control. I see little purpose in trying to fault them.”

—He was asked to talk about how much communication there was with the Board of Trustees in the negotiations with state officials and the NCAA. He wouldn’t say much, except that “I hear frequently from my trustees, and that’s a good thing … but negotiation of details is first and foremost with the attorneys. … Then, when you have a sense of what agreement is possible, that’s the best time to bring it to the board. Then they can make the best possible decision. And, as you can see, the vote was unanimous.” He added that the negotiations were going on “right up to that moment,” presumably meaning right up until the start of the trustees’ meeting this afternoon.

—Asked again about the Paterno statue, he said: “Same answer. [I’m a] boring guy. There’ll be a good time and place.”

—In November, President Barron said he was committed to personally reviewing the Freeh Report. At today’s news conference he said today’s events don’t change that plan. “I am very appreciative that we’ve hit a tremendous milestone today, and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” he said, “but I don’t think my responsibilities change.”

—Asked if he had a message for students who might be inclined to celebrate today’s news, he referred to the spontaneous—but peaceful—rally that took place when Penn State’s bowl eligibility was restored last fall. “Our students acted with a high level of enthusiasm but with a great deal of respect,” Barron said, “and although I think I told you I was always worried about such an activity, I was very pleased by their behavior. And I’m hoping from every inch of my body that I can be equally proud today. This is something to be very happy about; this is not something that should promote destructive behavior in any way, shape, or form.”

Tina Hay, editor

President Barron’s Comments on the NCAA Settlement

Myke Atwater:

Let’s rejoice in what we accomplished so far, knowing that there are other issues still to be resolved, and wrongs that need to be made right!

Originally posted on The Penn Stater Magazine:

Penn State president Eric Barron addressed the media for about 20 minutes this afternoon, talking about the agreement that repeals the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State. Here are a few of his comments:

—”I’m pleased we can close this chapter,” he said, “and look ahead to the important challenges and opportunities that face Penn State.”

—In addressing “a few key details” of the agreement, he mentioned that the $60 million fine imposed on Penn State “remains in the state of Pennsylvania, first and foremost.” Of that, $48 million goes to the Commonwealth, and the other $12 million “will remain at Penn State, to create an endowment, which is a long-term investment in [programs] … to help eradicate child abuse.”

—Asked about the fate of the Paterno statue, and other calls for Penn State to honor Joe Paterno’s career, Barron said: “Those who know me know that I prefer not to talk about things…

View original 489 more words

The Grand Experiment Continues–Success with Honor!

— The Penn State football team had 51 squad members earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average in the fall 2014 semester, the second-highest total in program history.

Coach James Franklin’s squad set program records with 25 players earning dean’s list recognition and 57 players owning a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher after the fall semester and 21 true freshmen posting a 3.0 GPA or better last fall.

“We take a great deal of pride in our academic performance and we are committed to a high level of success and achievement in the classroom and on the field,” Franklin said. “I have been so impressed by the dedication, work ethic and pride our players have demonstrated with all their academic and team responsibilities. We want our players to have the complete student-athlete experience at Penn State.”

Could NCAA Officials Face Criminal Charges for Role in Penn State Case?

By Matt McClenahen of McClenahen Law Firm posted in Penn State on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

With Senator Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord’s lawsuit against the NCAA now in the discovery phase, emails have been uncovered, which are very embarrassing to the NCAA. It now appears that NCAA officials privately acknowledged in internal emails that the NCAA did not have the authority to sanction Penn State. This conclusion is not at all surprising, given the fact that the university had not broken any NCAA rules, and in the past, criminal matters had always been handled exclusively by the criminal justice system.

Yet the NCAA’s internal discussions were very different from the public pronouncements of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who stated in the summer of 2012 publicly stated in interviews that the NCAA not only had the authority to take action against Penn State, but that even the death penalty was an option. Emmert claimed that the circumstances were so egregious, that prior precedents did not apply, and apparently the NCAA’s bylaws could simply be disregarded as well. Former Penn State President Rodney Erickson has stated that he was essentially forced into accepting the controversial “Consent Decree,” because the only other alternative would have been a multi-year death penalty for Penn State football. But it turns out that the NCAA was just “bluffing” Dr. Erickson, because NCAA officials knew all along that they could not legally make up new rules as they go along, or at least that is unless they could convince Penn State to “agree” to draconian sanctions.

The media seems to have missed a very important question in its coverage of the Corman and McCord lawsuit against the NCAA, and that question is whether the conduct of NCAA officials crossed the line into criminal conduct. It is quite possible that certain NCAA officials may be investigated for and ultimately charged with theft by extortion pursuant to section 3923 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. NCAA officials would be guilty of theft by extortion if they obtained or withheld property from Penn State by threatening to “take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action,” unless the threat was made in the honest pursuit of lawfully owed restitution or indemnification of harm. In simplified terms, if the NCAA had a legal right to impose sanctions against Penn State pursuant to the organization’s bylaws, then NCAA officials did not commit the crime of theft by extortion. They were simply negotiating with Penn State in a completely lawful manner. If on the other hand, the NCAA threatened to take official actions, such as imposing the death penalty or some other sanctions, and the NCAA had no legal authority to impose such sanctions, then I don’t see how this is anything but theft by extortion. Not only is it theft by extortion, it amounts to a first degree felony, because the amount of money extorted exceeds $500,000.

In addition to the charge of theft by extortion, NCAA officials could also potentially be charged with conspiracy to commit theft by extortion. A criminal conspiracy is an agreement between two people or among three or more people to commit a crime, with some overt action taken in furtherance of the crime. In this case, the allegation would be that NCAA officials worked together to commit the crime of theft by extortion, which would amount to an additional first degree felony.

A first decree felony in Pennsylvania is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years of incarceration and a fine not to exceed $25,000. If NCAA officials are convicted of both theft by extortion and conspiracy to commit theft by extortion, they face possible aggregate sentences of 20 to 40 years. I assume that none of the potential NCAA criminal defendants have a prior record, so they should not expect to face anything near the maximum possible sentences. The sentencing guidelines call for anywhere between nine to 16 months incarceration, which would either be a “long county jail” sentence or a “short state prison” sentence. That being said, if any NCAA officials are convicted, I would not be surprised to see “aggravated range sentences” of more than 16 months, as the amount of money extorted amounts to $60 million in fine money, plus millions of dollars in lost bowl revenue.

If any members of the Emmert Gang are charged, they may or may not be in a position to mount a defense. It will really depend upon the contents of emails, most of which have yet to be released. Possible defenses would be that the NCAA did in fact have authority to impose sanctions and/ or that D. Erickson was never threatened with the death penalty or any other sanctions. The first argument would be very difficult to make, given the plain language of the NCAA bylaws. The second argument would require a jury to believe that Dr. Erickson is lying about the death penalty threat. In short, any defenses mounted by the NCAA at trial would likely be some version of the “Chewbacca defense.” As things stand right now, certain NCAA officials look pretty damn guilty, but then again, my opinion could change as new evidence emerges.

Ultimately, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will have to decide whether criminal charges are warranted against any NCAA officials, and I am sure she will make such an important decision only after conducting a very thorough investigation. She is not going to want to file criminal charges is such a high profile case unless she is absolutely sure she can get convictions. I highly doubt she will be in a position to make any type of decision until after the Corman and McCord versus NCAA civil trial in early January, 2015. I just hope that Attorney General Kane has already assembled a team of some of her best prosecutors and agents to begin an investigation.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He is a Penn State alumnus and proud Penn State football season ticket holder.

Penn State Board Has a Job to Do! NOW


Now is the time for the board of trustees …

To demonstrate leadership and defend our great school.

To practice openness and transparency in deeds as well as words.

To be a body of inclusion rather than one of exclusion.

To recognize that trust is earned in two directions.

To correct Mark Emmert for his many misstatements that have harmed our school.

To invite Louis Freeh to Penn State so that the community can query him regarding his conclusions.

To invite former U.S. Attorney General and Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler James Clemente to Penn State so that the community can query them regarding their assessment of the Freeh report.

To respond to former Jerry Sandusky prosecutor Frank Fina’s statement that he “found no evidence” that Joe Paterno covered up Sandusky’s crimes by publicly repudiating the conclusions of the Freeh report.

To put back the statue and wall in their rightful place outside of Beaver Stadium.

To work to ensure that we leave Penn State a better place than we found it.

To join our 600,000 alumni who never lost the “We” in “We are.”

If we are truly interested in real healing, then we should demonstrate the courage and leadership that our roles as trustees require in order to serve the best interests of our great university. And if the Penn State community did not distrust us, then …

To formally honor the 61 years of service that Joe Paterno gave to Penn State.

written by trustee Anthony Lubrano



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