Franco Harris: 'Bad leadership at Penn State'

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Thursday night's fog delayed Franco Harris' flight to Philadelphia so long that he missed Penn State president Rodney Erickson's question-and-answer session with 600 agitated Nittany Lions alumni at the Radisson Valley Forge.

But the former all-American running back from Mount Holly said he'd heard more than enough from university leadership in the aftermath of the child sex-abuse scandal that led to the dismissal of his old coach, Joe Paterno.

"There's been a lack of leadership at Penn State," Harris told a group of reporters and fellow Nittany Lions graduates who had gathered in a conference room just below the hall where Erickson was speaking. "There's been bad leadership at Penn State. This leadership does not represent me."

Harris and disgruntled Penn State graduate Anthony Lubrano, a major athletic donor from Chester County, hastily scheduled the session because they were frustrated with the answers Erickson had given at a Wednesday night Q&A in Pittsburgh.

Since Jerry Sandusky's early November arrest triggered the crisis at his alma mater, Harris, 61, has been an outspoken critic of the board of trustees' decision to dismiss Paterno.

"Nobody has done more for Penn State than Joe Paterno," he said.

For Harris, that discontent with Erickson and the trustees intensified Thursday when he read a fresh board statement on Paterno's firing. In it, the trustees said that "given the serious allegations ... Coach Paterno could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties."

"Serious allegations? Those were serious allegations," Harris noted. "But those serious allegations weren't against Joe Paterno."

Harris called for the replacement of the entire 32-member board, but, in response to a question, said he would not be a candidate.

"My running days," he said, "are over."


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