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Board of Trustees Convene in Hershey Thursday and Friday for Public Meetings

by on March 14, 2013 6:34 AM

When Penn State's Board of Trustees gathers for its regular meeting at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center on Friday, members can expect to hear a lot about a topic not on the agenda – Joe Paterno and his legacy. 

On Tuesday, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) Public Relations Coordinator Maribeth Schmidt said upwards of 40 former Penn State football players will be in attendance Friday afternoon and several have applied to speak at the public comment hour of the board meeting. 

The former football players are attending to express their support for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and their anger over how his career ended in November 2011. Whether or not they are allowed to address the board, Schmidt said the group will hold a news conference after the board meeting ends.

Former tight end Brian Masella (1971-1975) told Onward State, "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 program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room.

"Now that Sue Paterno has come forward with the exceptional and thorough work of Governor Dick Thornburgh, FBI expert Jim Clemente and attorney Wick Sollers, we stand united with her and her family in decrying the absurd conclusions of Louis Freeh. He didn't know Joe. We knew Joe. And, if just one of those trustees had had the courage to just speak to him back in November 2011, none of us would have to be standing here today," Masella said. 

Trustee Anthony Lubrano, who will testify Monday in Harrisburg on Board of Trustees reform, said he hopes to see more of a give-and-take format during public comment, where board leadership answers questions or speaks with the individuals selected to address them.

When the public comment format originally went into effect at the September board meeting, the intent was to interact with members of the public. However, in November and January, the board offered no comment. 

"That's just a formal and respectful way for the board to respond," Lubrano said. "I certainly intend to interact to as much as possible with those people.

Lubrano, elected to the board in May, was one of the several current board members who threw his support behind the Paterno family's rebuttal to the Freeh report. He said the board should ask Freeh for a full refund. Whether to honor Paterno's legacy has been brought up many times at board meetings, both by members of the public and board members, but the full board has never made a formal decision. 

"In my opinion, there's no reason to wait," Lubrano said. "If I were the [full] board, I would take a proactive position – but they're not going to. They have no interest in being that courageous."

"But I think it's the right thing for us to do as a board," he said. 

Trustees convene at 10:30 a.m. Thursday for public committee meetings in The Hotel Hershey. Their regular public meeting will be held tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in Room 302 of the University Fitness and Conference Center, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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