While the Board of Trustees at Penn State may try to cloak themselves in secrecy, Anthony Lubrano has apparently found some holes.
But ever since that surreal night, when the Penn State trustees dismissed Joe Paterno, the Nittany Lions’ legendary football coach and Lubrano’s friend, the 1982 graduate has been obsessed with finding out why.
“I was horrified that night,” said Lubrano, 51.
Lubrano said he has spoken so far to 17 of the 32 trustees who, in a unanimous vote, dismissed the coach — five days after his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on child sex-abuse charges. In addition, Lubrano also talked with administrators, fellow donors and, as recently as Tuesday, to Paterno himself.
As a result, Lubrano has become convinced the Sandusky scandal provided a convenient excuse for an administration that had been trying since 2004 to gently nudge Paterno out the door.
“His firing had nothing to do with Sandusky,” Lubrano said. “Nothing. … He (Paterno) had become less involved in fundraising and there’d been some kind of falling out with Spanier. Spanier got to the point where he really wanted to replace him.”
The stunning dismissal came shortly after Paterno had announced he would step down after the season.
But according to Lubrano, Paterno had informed Penn State before the season of his intention to retire after 2011. The coach, he added, also provided administrators at that time with a list of four prospective replacements. One of the men on that list, Lubrano said, was Urban Meyer.
As is the norm for people in power, the mantra at PSU as far as the BOT is concerned is do as we say, not as we do. Transparency and accountability can be demanded of the athletic department, but not of the Board itself.
I was personally surprised that the Board came to a “unanimous” decision regarding the firing of Paterno, but a lawyer I know corrected me by saying that the original vote probably wasn’t unanimous, but when it was clear that the majority was going to move in that direction, the rest were coerced to changing their vote in a stand of solidarity. I don’t know if that indeed did happen, but I would like to think that a few members of the board were reluctant to throw an 84 year old icon out of the building to appease a self-righteous media mob. And neither the mob nor the Board had all the facts anyway. I’m not sure anyone yet has all the facts. But truth isn’t as important as perception and the BOT chose perception over justice. Sometimes, you have to stand up for what you believe, even if you are the only person standing.
Had I been on the board, the vote would not have been unanimous.
I applaud Lubrano and Franco Harris for taking the initiative to provide truth over propaganda.
In the end, the destruction of Joe Paterno does nothing for any of the victims. Their pain only served as a convenient vehicle for the Board to push its own agenda with misguided public support.