People react to Freeh report at PSU trustees meeting
DUNMORE - No one was happy, but most at the Penn State University Board of Trustees meeting Friday at Penn State's Worthington Scranton campus were hopeful and steadfast in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the institution.
Friday's meeting, the day after the release of findings in the damning Freeh Report, was the institution's first step beyond the scandal that has tarnished not just the revered football program - but the school, as well. Much of the meeting was business as usual, but the scandal and the aftermath was on everyone's mind.
Tom Kerrigan of Clarks Green and his son attended the meeting to show their ongoing support for the school, holding a sign that read, "Still Penn State Proud." Kerrigan hoped to remind people that Penn State remains a respectable institution.
"There's been a lot of negative publicity and a lot of it is deserved," Kerrigan said. "But Penn State still has great professors and great students. There is so much more to Penn State than what has happened. "
Signs are banned from trustee meetings and the room could accommodate about 30 spectators.
Trustees for the most part declined to answer media questions as they entered the Gallagher Conference Center. Trustee and area farmer Keith W. Eckel stopped for a moment and reiterated comments made at a press conference the prior day by chairwoman Karen Peetz.
"The best days of Penn State are ahead of us."
He declined to answer questions about the legacy of football coach Joe Paterno, and the extent to which the late football coach should be venerated by the school. The Freeh Report found that Paterno and three other administrators concealed their knowledge of child abuse suspicions against Paterno's assistant, Jerry Sandusky.
Some attendees, such as Bill Lewis of Daleville, are withholding final judgment on the legendary coach.
"All the information isn't in and investigations have come up with different accounts," he said. "I want to see what the trustees have to say."
At Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus, Chris Hettes was shocked and disappointed at the Freeh report findings.
"There was always a little hope that JoePa was clean," said the 21-year-old Swoyersville native, who will be a four-year football season ticket holder, and studied every day in the Paterno Library last school year.
Andy Watkins called himself an admirer of Paterno and a "big football fan," but that didn't temper his disgust.
"He's a guy who I looked up to as a role model for the last 18 years of my life, but there's no way you can justifiably see him in the same light after what came out," said Watkins, 19, of Plymouth.
Back in Dunmore, Jeff Raider, of Clarks Summit, isn't a Penn State graduate or a football fan, but curiosity brought him to the board meeting.
"I expect them to make hard decisions that will make in impact in how people perceive the school," he said. "All the things that Penn State claimed it was for, it obviously was not."
Peter Cameron, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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