SUCCESS WITH HONOR
March 28, 2013
Dear Fellow Lettermen,
We write to you about a matter of great importance to our University. As fellow Lettermen and alumni of the Pennsylvania State University we, like the rest of the Nation, were horrified by the actions of Jerry Sandusky. No words that we or anyone else can say will ever heal Sandusky’s victims, their families or the damage that he caused other than to say our thoughts and prayers remain with them. Also horrifying has been the ensuing damage inflicted to the standing of our University due in large part to the failure of the Board of Trustees. It is for this reason that we are compelled to step forward and oppose Paul Suhey’s re-election to the Board. We take this action with the full understanding of the division this may cause amongst us. It is not a role we relish but, it is one we believe is necessary to prevent any further damage to our University.
At nearly every turn over the past sixteen months, the Board of Trustees has failed miserably to exercise the necessary leadership and responsibility to guide our University. No greater illustration is the Board’s handling of Joe and the Freeh Report. While admittedly not knowing all of the facts, the Board unanimously rushed to judgment and fired Joe after 62 years of service to the University without ever once talking with him. Similarly, the Board to this very day has failed to discuss the substance of the Freeh report let alone question its evidentiary basis or lack thereof. The consequences of these actions have severely tarnished the reputation and legacy of Coach Paterno and have brought great harm upon the University, our beloved program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room.
In the coming days, you will no doubt hear how Paul Suhey disagreed with these actions but cannot tell “his side” for legal reasons or how knew Joe as “Uncle Joe”. To this we say nonsense! Actions speak louder than words and if Suhey disagreed with the actions the Board was taking he had both an obligation and a duty to speak up and cast his vote accordingly. The fact that he failed to do so only underscores the point that he is not fit to serve on the board a day longer. The choice is for everyone to make but, for us it could not be any clearer – retire Paul Suhey, like he claimed to retire Joe, by not re-electing him.
Robert Capretto ’67
Tom Donchez ’74
Franco Harris ’72
Justin Ingram ’00
Christian Marrone ’97
Brian Masella ’74 Lydell Mitchell ’72
Michael Robinson ‘04
Steve Smear ’69
Brandon Short ’99
PA House member Scott Conklin has asked the help of everyone who cares about
Penn State and who understands that the PSU Board of Trustees needs to get
serious reform. Two House members allegedly have been lobbied by current BOT members to stall four reform bills so that they cannot reach the floor of the
House to receive a fair hearing. If the recent PA Senate hearing is to be
anything more than a distant memory, and BOT reform to avoid being buried by our status quo trustees, we need to provide serious, and I mean SERIOUS,
encouragement to those House members to stop obstructing these bills. And
encourage House leaders to assist in that effort. We need a tsunami of emails
and snail mail to the four individuals provided here. IF you are planning to write a letter, we encourage you to be short and to the point—the trick is to be clear from the beginning what you want from this person. Write your own letter, use this one, splice something short together—your call. If you’re not a resident of PA, don’t share that with them. You’re Penn State—that’s enough. Finally, feel free to mail any snail mail letter when you’re ready. However, emails should be sent on MONDAY!
writing you to request that you assist in moving legislation relating to reform
of the Penn State Board of Trustees to the floor of the House so that it can
receive the hearing that it deserves. The current leadership of the Board is
attempting to offer only minor adjustments to Board practices and touting them
as major reforms. This is the same leadership which failed to respond
effectively to crises during the past sixteen months, and those failures have
done serious damage to the Commonwealth’s flagship university.
following bills need your cooperation and assistance:
- House Bill 299 –
Reduce the size of the Board of Trustees
- House Bill 310 – Reorganize
the voting structure of the Board
- House Bill 311 – Amend the Right-To-Know
Law to include State Related entities
- House Bill 312 – Amend the Ethics Act
to include State Related entities
We are all counting on your help to
bring the Penn State Board of Trustees into the Twenty-First century.
The Honorable Samuel H. Smith
Speaker of the
139 Main Capitol BuildingPO Box 202066Harrisburg, PA
110 Main Capitol BuildingPO Box
202028Harrisburg, PA 17120-2028
Daryl Metcalfe, Chairman
House State Government Committee144 Main CapitolPO
Box 202012Harrisburg, PA 17120-2012
Paul Clymer, Chairman
House Education Committee
216 Ryan Office BuildingPO
Box 202145Harrisburg, PA 17120-2145
Mark Battaglia was the starting center on the 1982 National Championship Football Team. The first of Penn State’s many National Championship Teams (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986, and 1994) to be recognized as such by the AP and UPI polls. I was fortunate enough to spend a week of fly-fishing in Montana with Mark back in 2003 and we’ve been friends ever since.
On March 15, 2013, Mark addressed the Penn State Board of Trustees at the meeting in Hershey.
Here are his words: “Thank you. And thank you for the opportunity to address the Board today. My name is Mark Battaglia and I was fortunate enough to be on the 1982 National Championship Team.
At a press conference afterward, Penn State Lettermen who played for Paterno gave the board their own prescription for moving forward:
* A formal apology to legendary former head football coach Joe Paterno‘s family for his firing-by-telephone days after Sandusky’s arrest.
* Restoration of the monument outside Beaver Stadium that paid tribute to Paterno’s teams. The concrete wall was removed with Paterno’s statue last July, causing deep hurt to many of the players from Penn State’s most successful teams and their fans.
* Joining the pushback, currently led by Gov. Tom Corbett, against the four-year program of NCAA sanctions against Penn State football, a regime of penalties that the letterman said are unfairly punishing players, students and fans who had nothing to do with Sandusky.
They also seconded trustee Anthony Lubrano’s request for a board meeting with former FBI Director Louis Freeh, so that members at large can have their first opportunity to confront him with their questions.
Board members gave no indication that they are ready to act on those demands Friday – to date, only a small minority have expressed public misgivings about Freeh’s findings that Penn State’s top administrators and Paterno – gave cover for Sandusky in 2001.
Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime defensive coordinator, was convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. He has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in state prison.
The university, meanwhile, is now trying to negotiate civil settlements with 30 men who claim they were abused by Sandusky over the last 35 years.
Freeh’s findings have largely been echoed in a statewide grand jury presentment last fall that resulted in criminal obstruction of justice, child endangerment and other charges against former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two of his top administrators. (However, Paterno was not implicated in this presentment).
For the first time several trustees actually engaged in a direct discussion about Freeh’s findings, with Lubrano reiterating his concerns and Ken Frazier, chair of the special committee that hired Freeh, defending the report.
And after the meeting, Trustees Chairman Keith Masser said that he felt the board’s legal committee, where Frazier touched off this week’s Freeh discussion Thursday, has an obligation to consider Lubrano’s request.
“Whether it comes out of the committee (with a positive recommendation) is another question,” said Masser, who also sits on the Legal Committee. “But we can make sure that it gets addressed.”
Masser declined to offer his own opinion on whether the board should revisiting the reports. “It’s not appropriate for us to pre-empt committee discussion,” he said Friday.
The lettermen who set the tone for the public comment period, however, said afterward that in their mind, this is the only path back to respectability for this board after, in their view, betraying Paterno and Penn State for 16 months.
“They have an opportunity for a second chance… because a new viewpoint of what happened at Penn State with Jerry Sandusky has come out,” through the Paterno-financed critique of the Freeh Report authored by former Gov. Dick Thornburgh, said former player Tom Donchez, now of Bethlehem.
“Let’s see what they do. Let’s see if they come out and do something for this university.”
The players said they are not worried that their continuing crusade against the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions effectively validates concerns cited by NCAA President Mark Emmert and others that Penn State does have a football-first culture.
That’s because, they said, any fair examination of the record shows that Paterno himself was so much more than football.
Mickey Shuler, an East Pennsboro High School star who played for Paterno, noted the coach’s role in elevating the entire university through his fundraising, demands on the trustees and expectations of his players.
As a player, Shuler said, Paterno’s expectations were that everyone was “responsible and accountable to one another, the team and most importantly, the university… representing that university in a positive light everywhere you go.
“And that concept,” added Shuler, who now lives in Marysville, “just became contagious… His was an example that the whole university, I think, feels they have to live up to his expectations.”
For instance, board members will be expected to support board decisions and not speak out against them. They will be prohibited from acting on his or her own behalf. And they will need to fulfill their donation pledges to Penn State on a timely basis.
When Lubrano heard on Friday the proposed changes, which originated in a governance committee, he asked if these were being dubbed the “Lubrano rule.”
Trustee Linda Strumpf appeared to give Lubrano a cross look, and she mouthed something at the same time as her gesture, but it was not clear what it was.
Lubrano said he wanted all the trustees held to the same standards.
The governance reforms were brought up during Friday’s board meeting for a fuller discussion by all 32 trustees. Lubrano was the only one who made comments.
Before the fireworks Friday, when former Penn State football lettermen have promised to lay into the board of trustees, a handful of board members will convene Thursday to pave the way for ground-breaking changes to how the 158-year-old university is governed. The board’s committee on governance and long-range planning is expected to review and recommend reforms for a vote of the full board on Friday in Hershey. Exactly what those reforms are, though, will not be known until the meeting, because its agenda is confidential, and a university spokesman could not provide firmer details about which reforms will be up for consideration.
The committee meeting is at 1 p.m. This will be streamed live on WPSU.com
Regardless of the uncertainty, the result will be unprecedented because of the long tradition of university and board governance, which became a lightning rod for criticism after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Politicians, elected officials and alumni have been calling for reform and changes, and the board of trustees continues to bear the brunt of the anger from seething fans and alumni over its handling of coach Joe Paterno’s ouster and the NCAA sanctions. Some groups want to purge the board of those who voted to remove Paterno as coach, while others want the size of the board reduced, a different composition or certain members stripped of their voting ability.
The best hints about what reforms to expect Thursday are from the committee’s last discussion on the topic in January, when the members reviewed the long list of reforms suggested by former Auditor General Jack Wagner.
Among the reforms that were discussed: whether the Penn State president or the state’s governor should have voting powers, whether the president will be the board’s secretary or whether retired university employees have to wait a few years before they can run for a board seat.
The committee is chaired by James Broadhurst and includes the former chairwoman Karen Peetz and Joel Myers, who fired off an email a few weeks ago criticizing the NCAA and the Freeh report.
Peetz and Myers were supportive of removing the president’s voting powers, and the committee sounded in favor of stripping the governor’s voting powers, too. Broadhurst said he first wanted to discuss the latter one with Gov. Tom Corbett.
A reduction in the president’s powers was one of Wagner’s core recommendations. The former auditor general also recommended reducing the size of the board from its size of 32 members
The trustees said the issue over how Paterno’s coaching career abruptly ended is one of the public misconceptions out there dogging them. Another, they said, is a belief that the trustees know every single detail about what’s going on at Penn State. Or, on the flipside, some think they are too far removed to know anything about what’s going on at ground zero.“Sometimes people think we’re all the way up and that we’re secluded and we don’t want to talk to people,” Deviney said. “I know at least from my perspective that’s not true. I don’t think we’d be here today if we felt that way.”Another criticism aimed at the trustees is that they did not stand up to the NCAA concerning the harsh sanctions and their impact on Penn State.“I think people didn’t think we were fighting for the university,” Suhey said. “But we were fighting for the university, honestly. Deep down, we were trying to do everything we could.”Another misconception, Suhey and Silvis said, is that folks think board members are ducking questions from the media.“I think people think that we’re hiding things or we have special information. We don’t,” Suhey said. “Everything we know is pretty much there now, too.”And Suhey said they’ve been accused of not reading the Freeh report even though they have
There is no question that they FIRED Joe Paterno, not “retire him 3 weeks early“–how stupid does Suhey think we are. There is a copy of the letter that was written by Cynthia Baldwin on the internet that clearly “fires” Joe and requests his return of all University items to the University immediately. And you don’t tear down the statue of someone who has “retired”. You take down a statue of someone who was fired in “disgrace”–and Joe never disgraced himself or the University he loved so much. The most baffling thing is that they expect us to believe their line of “crap”–This article infuriates me even more and I will make every effort to continue to replace every member of the Board of Trustees that was there in November 2011.
If the comment that Silvis made is true, that Erickson took it upon himself to agree with the NCAA without the consent of the Board of Trustees, he needs to be fired immediately. Also, due to the conflict of interest and the known effort of John Surma and his brother Vic Surma to destroy Joe Paterno (Vic Surma’s own words), John Surma needs to be fired immediately as well
Posted on March 10th, 2013 in News and Commentary
“Let me be clear – we got this wrong.”
“None of us are proud of how we handled this.”
by Bill Keisling
Penn State trustee Stephanie Nolan Deviney is up for reelection to the school’s governing Board of Trustees. On March 9, on her webpage, she responded to the following question: What was your thought process with respect to Coach Paterno?
“PLEASE NOTE: THE THOUGHTS BELOW ARE MY OWN, NOT THAT OF THE BOARD. EACH BOARD MEMBER HAS THEIR OWN REASON FOR MAKING THE DECISION. I DO NOT SPEAK FOR THEM. ALSO, I AM NOT TRYING TO LAY BLAME OR MAKE EXCUSES. I AM ONLY TRYING TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ASKED.
“Saturday, November 5, 2011, I received an email from a fellow PSU grad at approximately 3 p.m. with a messaging along the lines of ‘I bet you never thought you signed up for this!’ There was also an email from the university scheduling a conference call. Realizing something was going on I googled ‘Penn State’. This is how I learned the news.
“I immediately searched the web and found the presentment. I read the entire thing by our 5 p.m. call. When I read the presentment my initial reaction was that we needed to determine who knew what and when. The Presentment stated that Coach Paterno had been told of activity “of a sexual nature” between Sandusky and a young boy. During our call we planned a meeting for 7 p.m. the next evening.
“When I arrived at Old Main I was given a press release that had been issued by the Paternos. I asked if the press release had been run by anyone at the university before it was issued. I was told it had not been run by the university. When the decision was made to cancel the regularly scheduled press conference, there was no agreement with this decision. Instead, the press was told to stay tuned as plans were in the works for an off campus press conference (no such conference ever took place).
“At that time it was clear that the university’s interests and Coach Paterno’s interests were not aligned. We should have been working together on this issue – the biggest crisis the university had ever faced. Rather, we were two ships not communicating with one another. I did not think these actions were in the best interests of the university. My decision to remove Coach Paterno as head coach was largely based on the events that transpired after the presentment was issued.
“The trustees had a call on Tuesday night during which time I thought we would decide what actions to take with respect to Coach Paterno and Graham Spanier. However, many trustees thought that such a decision could not be made over the phone. Rather, we needed to be face to face, to look each other in the eye, to read each other’s body language in making such a monumental decision. We agreed to make the decision on Wednesday night when we met in person.
“I could not sleep that night as the decisions weighed heavily on my mind. I did not know what other trustees were going to decide. I appreciate all this University has done for the Commonwealth. I appreciate all Joe Paterno has done for Penn State. I understood what Penn State meant to so many people. I understood the magnitude of the decisions we would make the next day. No matter what we decided, we would forever change people’s lives, Penn State, and history. This decision was left in the hands of 32 people. I was one of them.
“On Wednesday Coach Paterno announced his retirement without consulting with the university.
“By Wednesday evening none of the trustees thought that the football season could go on “business as usual” with Coach Paterno on the sidelines and in front of the press. As such, we made the decision to remove him as head coach for the remainder of the season. We did honor his contract. Yes, I have seen the letter that Cynthia Baldwin sent to him. It should not have been sent to him.
“It seems so clear now that the university and Coach Paterno should have been speaking to each other and working with each other during those five days. Looking back it seems unbelievable that neither side communicated with one another. I often think of how things might have been different if any small changes were made that week. Posnanski recently wrote that after reading the presentment, Coach Paterno’s own family told him that he might have to face the possibility of never coaching another game. Under such circumstances it saddens me that we didn’t find a way to handle this better. We both should have been working together. When we made out decision, it was around 9 p.m. at night. It has also been widely reported why we made the decision to call his home. First, there were news vans and students surrounding his home. We did not think it was appropriate to have such a message be delivered so publicly. It surely would have been caught on camera. No one would have liked that either. Second, we did not think we could wait until the morning as many details of our meetings that week were reaching the press. The last thing we wanted was for Coach Paterno to hear the news from the press. Let me be clear – we got this wrong.
“I agree 100 percent with Sue Paterno’s statement – Joe Paterno did deserve more.” (sorry, Stephanie, too little too late–where have you been for the past year and a half? Why were you and Paul Suhey not out there with McCombie and Lubrano asking the important questions?)
“Every board member has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for all that Joe Paterno and his family did, and continue to do, for our university. He influenced and molded countless men. He and Sue were generous with their time, money, and talent. You may wonder how we could all feel this way and still remove him as head coach but as fiduciaries we had to make the decisions in the best interests of the University.”
editor note: it is my opinion that the Board of Trustees (John Surma) had a vendetta against Joe Paterno to not only fire him but to destroy his reputation, and that was the goal (not necessarily known by the general board membership).