School trustees’ debate on report heated
HERSHEY (AP) – Penn State’s trustees heard Friday – if they didn’t already know – that the firing of Joe Paterno soon after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest on child molestation charges remains an open wound among the school’s vast ranks of alumni.
The subject was briefly debated by board members, but in a half-hour public comment section alumni were more heated, including calls for trustees to resign and for the NCAA to rescind its harsh sanctions imposed on the school last year.
The main target of criticism was the university’s internal report into how university officials handled reports in 1998 and 2001 that Sandusky, a former assistant coach, was behaving inappropriately in team showers with boys. Sandusky was convicted of 45 criminal counts last year and is in state prison.
The report, produced by a team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, has been a target of critics, including Paterno’s family.
Paterno’s firing, said alumnus Philip LaPorta of Leesburg, Va., have “wreaked havoc” on Paterno’s family, the football program and the university.
“It is evident by the things that you have said and the things that you have failed to say regarding the Freeh report, your moral failure is cataclysmic,” LaPorta said. “Your failure in leadership is inexcusable.”
Trustee Ken Frazier, for the second day, defended the Freeh report, but fellow trustee Anthony Lubrano said he has lingering and troubling questions.
“The flaws of the Freeh report cannot be dismissed or overlooked,” Lubrano said. “They are significant and numerous and must be addressed. This case will not be resolved until the record is set straight.”
Mark Battaglia, who played under Paterno on the team that won a national title in 1982, called the trustees’ response to the scandal a “$100 million debacle” and called for better leadership.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Frazier,” said Battaglia, who lives in Pittsburgh. “This ‘move on’ thing? It’s not happening. The alumni are not buying it.”
Frazier, chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., chaired a task force set up by the trustees to look into the matter.