Reminders of Paterno still abound on PSU game days

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012
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"That's not Joe Paterno's life, that's not how Joe Paterno lived his life or led his program," Jervis said. "Nothing upsets me more than that, because that's what this university is all about."

Sue Wilson, a Penn State alumnus from Ohio, hosts a large tailgate each week across the street from the stadium with a delectable spread of dips and desserts. This year, the tailgate also draws looks for various signs including "409" banners and a placard that rested on a bumper one week that read "Karma has no deadline! Freeh. 'Trust'ees. Emmert," the last name in reference to NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Wilson is a member of the alumni watchdog group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, which has been critical of the board's actions.

"Until the truth comes out, and until you deal honorably with the Paterno family, and what you've done to them, don't call me," Wilson, a longtime donor, said. "No more scholarships. No more donations. There are thousands of us saying the same thing."

Days later, at a town hall forum on campus with university leadership, student Kevin Berkon criticized trustees for removing the Paterno statue too hastily. Paterno's name, though, was not removed from a university library on campus to which Paterno's family donated millions to help build.

"The Paterno library is the only thing left. His statue, his name, there's nothing here," Berkon said. "All I can say is you guys have pretty much torn this university apart. I cannot be more disappointed in the leadership here."

Later, trustee Marianne Alexander fielded another question about if the board would "take responsibility" for its actions concerning Paterno.

Trustees last month said that while they're closely studying the recommendations from Freeh to improve school procedures and policies, they have never accepted the conclusions in the report, as had been assumed by many critics of the board.

"I look forward to the day when we can acknowledge Joe Paterno's contributions to the university," she said. "I think at this point, we need to let the court cases play out. I'd like to see the community come together at some point. We're not there yet."

Some alumni critics have said the board should have taken let the legal process play out in the first place, in the frantic days following Sandusky's arrest. They view the Freeh report and the NCAA decision as another rush to judgment on Paterno's actions.

Rich Mauti, a wide receiver for Paterno in the 1970s, said he's not surprised by the show of support for the late coach on game days. He attends every home game to watch his son, Nittany Lions linebacker Michael Mauti.

"It's a hideous situation. The guy that did it is in jail and probably will never get out," Rich Mauti said in a phone interview this week. But he remains steadfast in his criticism of how the trustees and the NCAA treated Paterno.

"The rest of the things ... we'll find out the truth and what actually happened when the truth comes out."

For as passionate as the support for the Paterno family in the region and among many in Penn State's massive alumni base — about 560,000 strong — has been, the lurid scandal has elicited just as strong criticism against Penn State. This is especially true outside of Pennsylvania, and after Freeh said there was a cover-up.

These are tricky public relations issues facing university leadership, who are also trying to repair the school's image nationally with more criminal and civil proceedings still on the horizon.

Trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz has said that she understands the frustrations of the school's passionate alumni.

"I think, unfortunately, there will always be people who are skeptical about what we say or how we say it," Peetz said after September's trustees meeting. "We're just telling it like it is."

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP