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Penn State Lettermen Disavow Paul Suhey

Everyone knows Paul Suhey has a tough task ahead of him if he wants to win reelection to the Board of Trustees. The former Penn State football player has been vilified in particular for his role in the board’s failures over the last 16 months because of his close connection with the Paterno family.

It’s likely that no candidate has been criticized more than Suhey, especially after his infamous line — The Board of Trustees didn’t fire Joe Paterno, it just “retired him three weeks early.” But today’s criticism hits especially close to home.

A letter released today signed by 11 former Penn State football lettermen — including Franco Harris, Todd Blackledge, Michael Robinson, and Lydell Mitchell — calls out Suhey specifically, and urges fellow lettermen to not vote for him in the upcoming Board of Trustees election.

“Actions speak louder than words and if Suhey disagreed with the actions the board was taking he had both an obligation and a duty to speak up and cast his vote accordingly. The fact that he failed to do so only underscores the point that he is not fit to serve on the board a day longer,” the letter states.

You can read the full letter below.

(Update March 29, 11:00 p.m.) Paul Suhey offered comment on the letter and his decision to fire his former coach, saying that the values Joe Paterno taught him led to that decision:

“I was fortunate to be named captain of the 1979 team. Besides my parents, Joe Paterno also taught me invaluable lessons about life. One of those lessons was that good leaders can’t be afraid of doing the right thing because it’s unpopular.  Joe Paterno taught us the importance of integrity.  As a board member, my obligation is to my conscience.  My responsibility is to do what I think is right for the university that I love. I had to make what I knew would be a stunningly unpopular decision but I believed then, as I believe now for many reasons, that it was the right decision.  I understand that there are many people who believe it was the wrong decision, as much as I believe it was the right one.  I am okay with that and I respect the opinions of others who disagree with me”.

(Update April 1, 8: 20 p.m.) Justin Kurpeikis, the president of the Penn State Football Letterman’s Club, released a statement via the athletic department earlier tonight, presumably in response to this letter. Kurpeikis says that the organization remains an apolitical club and that they have not made any endorsements for the Board of Trustees race.

“The Penn State Football Letterman’s Club is an organization comprised of almost one thousand Lettermen. As is true with any group of this size, it is reasonable to believe that there are differing opinions among our membership and they are free to make public endorsements and offer support to candidates in elections. It is important to note that we have not been approached for an endorsement. Any other endorsement / opinion is in no way an official position of the Penn State Football Letterman’s Club. We have always been and remain an apolitical organization and anything reported to the contrary is inaccurate and false. Your cooperation in future reporting is appreciated.”

Paul Suhey Lettermen Letter

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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