PSU football alumni join trustee protest

Board intends to discuss Freeh report, address rebuttal commissioned by Paterno family

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With Penn State University trustees being pressed to revisit the Freeh report from unhappy alumni and even some state legislators, 30 former football players will add their voices when those trustees meet Friday.

The players plan to assemble for the board's 1 p.m. session at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey to show their displeasure with decisions trustees made in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, including the firing of football coach Joe Paterno, protest organizers say.

Trustees chairman Keith Masser intends for the board to discuss the Freeh report, which found that Mr. Paterno and other campus leaders sought to cover up crimes by Sandusky, now in prison for attacks on 10 boys over a decade, including some on campus, Penn State spokesman David La Torre said Tuesday.

He said the board also will address a rebuttal to the report commissioned by the Paterno family.

Asked if individual trustees would go on record saying whether they agree with the Freeh report, Mr. La Torre replied:

"The majority of the trustees are focused on the 119 recommendations contained in the report and are using them to improve the university in areas such as safety and governance. To date, the university has implemented a majority of those recommendations, which are helping to make the university stronger and more accountable."

A number of the football players, some recent team members and others from decades ago, have signed up for the public comment portion of Friday's meeting. They hope to secure all 10, three-minute speaking slots, said Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, called PS4RS, an alumni group that disclosed plans for the protest Tuesday.

PS4RS, which has sought the board's ouster, released a statement from Brian Masella, a tight end and punter who played for Penn State from 1971 to 1975.

"We want to look the trustees in the eyes and tell them that their actions over the last 16 months have brought great harm upon Penn State, our beloved [football] program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room," he said.

The Freeh report's release last July was followed days later by landmark NCAA sanctions against Penn State. In recent weeks, the report has come under intensifying attack from Paterno loyalists, and the matter even spilled over into Penn State's annual budget trip before the state Senate Appropriations Committee.

Appropriations Committee chair Jake Corman, R-Centre, has said trustees should analyze the Freeh report and say publicly if they agree with it.

"If they believe that the report was flawed, or at best premature and incomplete, and the NCAA levied its sanctions based on that report, they ought to publicly ask the NCAA to re-evaluate those sanctions," Mr. Corman told the Post-Gazette last month.

"It's their report," he said of the trustees. "They own it."

education - state

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.


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