Harvey Levine/FOS

Penn State AD Gives Some Clarity on Joe Paterno Commemoration

The Nittany Lion will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the late coach's first win this weekend. Sandy Barbour said the focus will be on "the student-athletes he impacted."

Penn State will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the late Joe Paterno’s first victory when Temple visits Beaver Stadium this Saturday.

Thursday afternoon — after weeks of speculation of what the commemoration would entail — PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour offered a bit of clarity in a prepared statement.

But anyone hoping to know the full scope of the commemoration will apparently have to show up for the game.

Barbour’s complete statement was:

“This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game and first victory as head coach. On September 17, commemorative activities will focus on the commitment he had to student-athletes and academics, as well as highlights of the 1966 game.

 “This Saturday at Beaver Stadium as we face Temple University, we will highlight the student-athletes he impacted. Members of the 1966 team, co-captains Mike Irwin and John Runnells, will be participating in the on-field coin toss. Further in-game introductions of players will take place, along with video presentations on the impact to student-athletes.

 “Coach Paterno wanted academic success not only for his players but also for every student who came through Penn State. Together with his wife, Sue, they helped countless students become leaders and earn a Penn State diploma. Our plans are consistent with the wishes of the Paterno family as well, with a focus on the players and their accomplishments at Penn State and beyond.”

Critics have taken Penn State to task for being “tone deaf” in honoring Paterno in any form, since the Jerry Sandusky scandal happened while he was head coach of the Nittany Lions.

Paterno’s many supporters argue that the Hall of Fame coach reported allegations of Sandusky’s misdeeds to the proper authorities, was never charged with any crime, and even in death has never been implicated by law enforcement officials of doing anything wrong.

As an aside, Irwin has been on a longtime panelist on the local TV show “The Nitwtis,” along with FOS editor and publisher Mark Brennan, and Altoona Mirror managing editor Neil Rudel.


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