Joe Lally: Football Letterman 1975 – 1979, BS, MBA Penn State

I was privileged and honored to play for Penn State and Coach Joe Paterno. I am especially proud of my degrees from Penn State. Like all of you, I am sure, I am inspired by our student body and all the great things that they do, like THON. Our student-athletes and the work they do with Penn State Uplifting Athletes “Lift For Life”. Together, with our alumni, we are the face of Penn State. That’s who WE ARE!

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the negative press toward Penn State and it’s supposed culture of football reverence is a direct result of the board’s ineffective leadership over the past 16 months and the handling of the incomplete and inaccurate Freeh Report and the inappropriate NCAA sanctions – costing Penn State by most accounts over $150 million dollars and severely tarnishing our reputation.

Though we might never know the truth, the Joe Paterno we know had more character and integrity in his little pinkie than Freeh/Emmert have in their entire bodies. We have one of the highest graduation rates for our athletes and scholars over a 3.0. That’s who WE ARE. That is what mattered most to Joe Paterno.

All of us in this room know that, so how could YOU forget who WE ARE. So I ask this esteemed body, where was the leadership to stand up for us when Penn State needed it most!? But, it’s not too late for you to do the right thing.

Several of you have unimaginable responsibilities with your corporate boards. While I am sympathetic toward your plight, I feel that PSU interests cannot come second to politically correct, corporate interests or other hidden agendas, something I believe has happened over the past 16 months. My fellow alumni view ourselves as the shareholders/owners of the company “Penn State.” In effect your bosses. If this were a public company annual shareholder meeting – ALL but a few, would be voted off the board immediately.

The trouble with not seeking the truth is that it’s costing Penn State dearly on so many fronts. We can’t move forward without finding the truth and fighting for what we know is true. Joe Paterno was always about doing the right thing no matter what the consequences were. He was someone with integrity, compassion and cared deeply about all of us and our University.

I don’t have a problem criticizing Joe Paterno for “going up the middle” all the time, but there was no way that the Joe Paterno we all know would put innocent children in harms way or impede an investigation. Deep down I think you all know it too, but were too caught up in media frenzy surrounding the Presentment to defend our football program, our University and Joe Paterno.

When you decided not to defend our great University and 4 deeply committed employees with over 150 years of dedicated service to PSU, you failed us. I’m sorry, but teammates don’t do that to one another and neither should you. Together, we are in this fight and can fix this thing, but we need bold leadership and we need it now.

Joe Paterno shaped the lives of thousands of young people – players and students. He is one of the great men of our generation and Penn State University, so take a page out of the Paterno playbook – fight for our honor and reputation. We are Penn State PROUD!

We urge you to read the report commissioned by the Paterno’s and use it as a resource to understand what actually happened, to question the incomplete Freeh Report, to fight the inappropriate NCAA sanctions and to demonstrate the strong leadership that we so desperately need to correct these past mistakes. If you do, then you have our full support and appreciation for all you do for this great University.

We know who WE ARE……..do you!?!

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3 comments
  1. Ann Marie Wycheck said:

    Well said!!!! Thank you!

  2. Joseph Tenaglia '76 said:

    Well said Mr. Lally. There are too many that have taken the attitude be quiet, take you punishment and erase the memory of a good man. There are too many unanswered question, too many people who deserve the truth. We cannot just lay down and let Joe Paterno a man we respected and admired, his family, the University, and the proud heritage of our team be sacrificed without a fight to know the truth. It’s not easy to stand up to the lynch mob frenzy and the “guilty without a defense” stance that the Board, the media, politicians and many others have taken. It’s time to regroup, stand up, pursue the facts and Fight On State!

  3. Suzanne E. Tallichet, PhD '91 said:

    Hi, Joe. I was your apartment neighbor on Beaver Ave during those great years. I recall typing a paper for you. I also remember going down to NOLA to watch another great PSU football team play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Years 1979. You have expressed many of the same feelings and asked the same questions I have as well. Thanks for your letter. As a third generation Penn Stater I know we all have much to be proud of in Penn State. I have total faith that we always will because WE ARE ….

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