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Penn State Trustees Propose, Then Withdraw Resolutions to Honor Joe and Sue Paterno

A small group of Penn State trustees on Friday proposed a resolution with two measures to honor former football coach Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue, but it was withdrawn after comments by trustee Jay Paterno.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano put forth a resolution during the board’s regular meeting to name the field at Beaver Stadium “Paterno Field” and to hold a “Susan P. and Joseph V. Paterno Day” in fall 2024 the same day the field would be named. Trustee Alvin de Levie seconded the motion.

However, following a lengthy speech by trustee Jay Paterno, who is the son of Joe and Sue Paterno, Lubrano pulled back the resolution. After the removal of the resolution, trustee and former Penn State football player Brandon Short delivered an emotional speech decrying what he saw as the use of Joe Paterno’s name for political gain.

Lubrano began his proposal with a lengthy speech about Joe Paterno’s dedication to the university and both its academic and athletic successes. He cited a speech Paterno gave to the board in 1983 urging members to better devote their efforts to the school’s academic issues at hand.

“My fellow trustees, we have reached the moment of truth,” Lubrano said. “Are we going to honor two people who have literally given their lives in the pursuit of a better Penn State? Are we going to allow fear-mongering to prevail?”

Lubrano also cited Franklin Roosevelt’s famous presidential inaugural speech, imploring his fellow trustees not to give in to the fear he said was perpetrated by outside influences.

Paterno was fired amid the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2012, and whether to formally honor him has remained a contentious issue among some Penn State trustees and community members. Spotlight PA reported on Thursday that a group of trustees met with university officials twice in January to discuss naming the field at Beaver Stadium in Paterno’s honor.

In his proposal, Lubrano included references to Paterno’s philanthropic efforts toward Penn State and his abilities as a football coach and a leader. Lubrano cited the funding of the Paterno Library, the Pasquillara Spiritual Center and more, while also noting the national championships, All-Americans, Big Ten titles and more that Paterno brought to Penn State.

After de Levie seconded the motion, Board of Trustees Chair Matthew Schuyler opened up discussion on the proposal. Jay Paterno spoke for more than 10 minutes about his father’s dedication to the university.

“After 12 years, some would argue the time is long overdue to correct the historical record. Others think it is not important,” Jay Paterno said. “Getting it right is important because that decades-long era of Penn State history was never about one man.

“If Joe Paterno was here right now, he’d respect the vision of our president and implore us to do the hard things required for the future of Penn State,” he added. His full remarks can be read here.

He then asked the board to delay the proposal to a later date, which he said he hoped would come soon.

Lubrano moved to withdraw the resolution from further discussion on Friday, a motion which was quickly seconded.

After the motion was tabled, Short, an All-American linebacker who played for Joe Paterno from 1996-99, gave an impassioned speech about the prior 20 minutes of discussion, saying there were several members of the Board of Trustees who use Joe Paterno’s name to gain power and influence.

“I’m fortunate here today to serve on this board, working with all of you. I support this resolution and support honoring Joe Paterno and honoring Sue and doing everything that we can to honor their name,” Short said. “I don’t support continued political stunts in Joe Paterno’s name, to put out a resolution, to say all this and then pull it back is insulting to me, personally.”

“It was not necessary. I knew nothing about this,” he continued. “I support the resolution, but I would not have supported it brought to this board in this manner, making stunts over and over again, constantly. People use Joe Paterno’s name to be reelected because that’s what people vote on.”

After Short’s speech, the board meeting was adjourned.

Geoff Rushton contributed to this report.