STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Former Penn State Nittany Lion football player Franco Harris (far right), sits with a cardboard cutout of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in his sky box with a sign reading "Due Process for PSU JVP" during play between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Ohio University Bobcats at Beaver Stadium on September 1, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Legendary running back Franco Harris plans on visiting the entire NCAA board in hopes they reconsider their decision to strip his former coach Joe Paterno of over 100 wins in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trial.
Former Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris will attempt to visit all 18 members of the NCAA Board with hopes that they reconsider their decision to strip the late Joe Paterno of wins in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
The NFL Hall of Famer believes that some of the punishment on the former NCAA Division I all-time wins leader was unjust, saying that the coach deserved "due process" rather than a decision-making process he feels was "rushed".
Harris wants them to consider reinstating at least six years of Paterno’s wins. He argues that during the first three years of the period, law enforcement had cleared Sandusky, a former assistant coach, and in the final three years the matter was in the hands of the state attorney general, who he said could have filed charges much sooner.
It's not off to the best start:
The Hall of Fame former Pittsburgh Steelers running back began his quest on Tuesday in California, where he tried to meet with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Timothy White, chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. Harris said neither made himself available.
It's tough to say why Harris is heading out on this likely ill-fated journey: Respect for his deceased former coach? Publicity? A genuine belief that whether or not an amateur athletics organization recognizes games that everybody knows happened matters? Regardless, it doesn't seem very likely to change anything:
"I doubt very much that it will harm Penn State, but I also can’t imagine it will help," (former NCAA Infractions Committee Member Josephine Potuto) said.
Harris' dedication to the program and his former coach is impressive, but certainly many members of the Penn State community would rather move forward rather than continuing to dwell in the past and revisit the scandal that reshaped the school.