Event to mark date of Paterno's firing
STATE COLLEGE — Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris will continue his crusade to defend late Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno by marking the two-year anniversary of his firing with an event in State College on Saturday.
Harris has been an outspoken critic of the university's board of trustees since Nov. 9, 2011, when school leaders fired Paterno amid the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Paterno died in January 2012 of complications of lung cancer.
Harris repeatedly has expressed his views publicly and conveyed his frustration to the NCAA and the media.
Harris and other Paterno supporters will meet on Saturday during an event called Upon Further Review to present information they gathered since the scandal rocked Penn State. Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for molesting 10 boys.
Eileen Morgan, a Penn State alumna from Woodbridge, Va., said Harris will moderate a panel discussion and several others will present arguments for why they say the Sandusky scandal “shouldn't have been turned into the Penn State scandal.”
“Our goal is uncovering the truth and bringing it forward and really shining a light on those responsible for creating the false narrative,” Morgan said. “The main players we're shining a light on are the Penn State board of trustees.”
Other presenters include Ray Blehar, one of the event organizers, and John Zeigler, a filmmaker from California who released a documentary titled “The Framing of Joe Paterno.” A discussion that includes former trustee candidate Ryan Bagwell and alumnus Rob Tribek will be held following their presentations.
Morgan said event organizers hope people attend who are “on the fence” regarding how they feel about how events transpired at Penn State.
She said she hopes students attend and can bridge a gap that's formed between alumni who are focused on the scandal and students who want to move forward.
Penn State student body President Katelyn Mullen said she'll attend the event if her schedule allows but added that having a town hall-style event at this time of year is inconvenient for students.
“I think it's an interesting conversation,” Mullen added. “It's just different ideology. People are allowed to disagree and have their own thoughts about this.”
Anna Orso is a freelance reporter based in State College.