Franco Harris: Penn State damage has been done
Franco Harris has been outspoken in his criticism of the Penn State Board of Trustees and its firing of coach Joe Paterno in November, following the indictment of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on sexual abuse charges. The former Penn State and Steelers great hammered away at the Board of Trustees on Saturday, renewing calls for a change in leadership. Harris talked to the Tribune-Review before the team's annual Blue-White game about his crusade against the Board of Trustees and why it is so important to him.
Tribune-Review: Have there been any new developments on your front?
Franco Harris: I don't think it's gotten any better. I don't think the board of trustees has really realized the depth of damage they've done to Penn State and the Penn State football program. It's disappointing that we have leadership in both the board of trustees and the athletic department where they don't support Joe Paterno, so we're still fighting that fight for new leadership.
Trib: Why have you become the most outspoken former player if not person on this issue?
FH: I think that probably surprises a lot of people, even myself. I'm watching this saying, “This stuff is absurd. How could they say these things about Joe?” We know Joe would never cover up anything, never. That's just not his nature. No way would he ever do anything like that. Not one person in the administration, the board of trustees (gave) support. I guess I just got kind of pissed off. I'm saying we can't let this happen to Penn State, can't let it happen to Joe, so I dove in and I'm in all the way.
Trib: How much support have you gotten in your fight?
FH: It's a big groundswell. They are trying to smother the meaning of Joe Paterno. They don't even mention his name. They don't honor him in any sort of way. On his viewing day for the ballplayers there were over a thousand ballplayers that came back for the viewing. And the next day during the procession to the grave site, there were three miles of people, 10 deep on each side. No coach anywhere has ever commanded something like that. These people know the love that Joe had for them and this university and this is a guy they want to snuff out? People know better.
Trib: Are you doing this because you feel like you owe it to Joe Paterno?
FH: What they did to Joe and Penn State, the damage they did was immense. We have a group of people who really feel like they're untouchable, and so they can do anything that they want and there's no consequences. If someone does something like they did and there's no one to call them on it, where do we stand as alumni that we let the leadership do that sort of thing? They want us to accept that? They want us to go away quiet? No way. I cannot tell you the hundreds of thousands of alumni who are now a part of this and want better for Penn State.
— Scott Brown