David Joyner Introduced as Acting Athletic Director
David Joyner, who was hired as the new acting athletic director earlier this week, was introduced to the media Friday morning during an on-campus press conference. Joyner has served on the Board of Trustees for more than a decade, and he was also an All-American football player and wrestler during his time as a student at Penn State.
Wearing a blue ribbon in honor of victims of sexual abuse, Joyner stressed the importance of using athletics to further academics. He stated that “the athletic field is just another classroom” and described the athletic department as the “College of Intercollegiate Athletics.”
Most of the questions directed at Mr. Joyner were related to the recent sexual abuse scandal and his role as a member of the Board of Trustees during that time. Over the recent week, there has been speculation that some of the Trustees may have known about the allegations against Jerry Sandusky stemming from 1998 and 2002 police investigations that took place before this knowledge became public. Joyner insists that he had no knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes until the Harrisburg Patriot News broke the story last March.
Joyner was also prodded about his relationship with Joe Paterno. He described his time playing for Paterno, and said that “I had a great relationship with Coach Paterno, at the time.” When asked for his personal opinion on the abrupt firing of Coach Paterno, Joyner simply answered “The Board’s decision [to fire Paterno] was unanimous. I think that speaks for itself.”
He also addressed the criticism that the board didn’t give Paterno the option to resign and fired him over the phone instead of in-person. Joyner didn’t have much of an answer for those questions and blamed those decisions on Board Chairman John Surma. He also gave the often recited statement, “It was not in the best interest of the University to let Paterno coach the rest of the season.”
Much has been made recently of Franco Harris’s recent comments criticizing the board’s decision to fire Paterno. Harris played with Joyner at Penn State from 1969 to 1971 and Joyner admits that he and Harris are “great friends.” He added, “We just don’t agree here.”
Perhaps the most important immediate role for Joyner is finding a new head football coach to replace the departed Paterno. He said that there is “no timetable” for finding a new coach, and that the process must be done meticulously in order to find the right person. When asked if current interim coach Tom Bradley was a possible replacement, Joyner said, “Anybody is welcome to apply.”
For those worried about a cover-of-darkness removal of the Joe Paterno statue over Thanksgiving break, Joyner assured us that there still has been no discussions regarding the statue. This reaffirms the position Penn State took yesterday regarding the statue.