Some alumni are showing their support for Joe Paterno and are criticizing the Board of Trustees' firing of the former head coach.
Anthony Lubrano, a 1982 graduate of the Smeal College of Business and namesake of Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, initiated a petition supporting the Penn State football lettermen who wrote a letter of support to Paterno last month.
The letter, titled "We Stand in Support of Joe and Penn State," was signed by 526 football players, both past and present, according to former linebacker Brandon Short.
"We wanted people to take a step back and wait for things to come out before passing judgement on Coach Paterno," said Short, who was instrumental in the drafting and signing of the letter.
After talking with former Penn State running back Franco Harris, Lubrano said he also wanted to show his support for Paterno, like the lettermen. Lubrano then decided to get other alumni involved.
At Lubrano's request, Michelle Murosky, Class of 2003, posted a petition on www.change.org titled, "In Support of Due Process." Lubrano said that he also sent out letters to alumni in an attempt to promote the cause.
Murosky, the founder of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said that her organization fully supports the message of the petition.
The group, which is open to all Penn State alumni and supporters, hopes to replace all board members by endorsed petition candidates. The group currently has 2,500 members in its closed Facebook group.
The petition calls for due process and to reserve judgement on Paterno and the Penn State community until all of the facts surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case are revealed. The message is not about guilt or innocence, but rather that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Lubrano said.
"The university responded inappropriately to the situation," Lubrano said. "Their response set us down a path that has harmed our reputation."
The Board of Trustees made decisions without the benefit of proper information, Lubrano said.
"Even a grade school student of the law would know that a grand jury presentment is a one-sided view of things," Lubrano said.
Lubrano said that he sees a disconnect between the board and the rest of the Penn State community.
"It's a sad commentary on our leadership," Lubrano said. "The board could've stood up for Paterno, but they didn't. The silence was deafening."
Chairman of the Board Steve Garban said he is aware of the circulating petition. Garban said people are entitled to their own opinions, but said it would be "inappropriate" for him to comment further.
Lubrano said that he has known Paterno since 1995, and knows that the former coach would never trade the well being of a child with the reputation of a football program. He said that factions on the board already wanted Paterno gone before the scandal broke.
"They sat him on a ledge all by himself and pushed him," Lubrano said.
But this is just the first step in the process. The petition currently has over 4,600 signatures, but Lubrano hopes to garner over 100,000 by the time of the Board of Trustees' spring elections. Lubrano said that his goal is to place three new members on the board during these elections.
"Our strength is in numbers," Lubrano said.
To achieve this goal, Lubrano said that he plans on getting the student body engaged in the movement. On Tuesday, he and other petition organizers will be meeting with student leadership to discuss possible ways to move forward.
"My endgame is to change the narrative of these events. It really shouldn't be the 'Penn State Scandal,' " Lubrano said. "I want to restore our reputation and enhance it in a measured, respectful way."