Penn State football legend Franco Harris held a rally on the one-year anniversary of Joe Paterno's funeral in King of Prussia, PA Friday night. "Upon Further Review: Penn State One Year Later'' was attended by approximately 200 Penn State supporters, including Harris and Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano.
If there was irony in holding a rally for Paterno in a town named for a monarch who was involuntarily dethroned by his former allies, it was lost on Harris. He explained the rationale for the rally to the Associated Press:
"We want to break down and analyze the facts. That's what this is all about,'' Harris said. "People clung to the story without questions; even our board of trustees didn't question it. They threw Penn State under the bus. Every act they did said Joe Paterno was guilty. We're trying to find the answers. The purpose of this is to let people see what was put out there was so misleading, and so false, the presentment and the Freeh report. We want answers.''
Harris also described the sanctions against Penn State football imposed by the NCAA, particularly the vacation of 111 Nittany Lion victories under Paterno, as, "the devastation of Penn State." He has been a vocal supporter of his former coach since the scandal broke in November 2011, claiming that neither Paterno nor Penn State received due process before being penalized for their roles in the Sandusky scandal.
Lubrano, who participated in a panel discussion criticizing the Freeh Report, told reporters that the purpose of the conference and future rallies planned by Harris is to question Penn State's leadership and keep the memory of Paterno alive:
"There was a rush to judgment. The Freeh report is the basis for the most severe sanctions ever imposed on an institution. I don't think it's beating a dead horse, as long as there are 600,000 Penn Staters around the country, we won't stop until we have a better sense of the truth. We know that our own didn't handle this very well. There are still questions about Penn State's leadership. We want to keep this thing alive.
"Ultimately for me, the university has to honor Joe Paterno sooner than later. Paterno is persona non grata at Penn State."
The event included the aforementioned panel discussion, a short documentary, and a forensic analysis of the testimony of former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, who told investigators he discovered former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a child in the team's locker room. McQueary's testimony was largely the basis of public outrage over Penn State's inaction.
Harris told reporters he plans on holding future rallies, including one in Maryland later this year.