Former Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris‘ public support of fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal has already cost him a job as a casino spokesperson. Now, it might result in similar problems with a local charity board.
An Associated Press story today claims that Harris’ relationship with the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program may be in jeopardy over Harris’ comments. Harris said the Penn State’s Board of Trustees “showed no courage” when firing Paterno.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has sent out a letter to the Pittsburgh Promise board condemning Harris’ words, saying he was “the wrong man to represent the Pittsburgh Promise and the ideals it embodies.”
The board will meet tonight to discuss Harris’ future with the program.
Again, we come back to the consequences of showing any kind of support or association with this situation at Penn State. Whether it’s the Big Ten taking Paterno’s name off the championship trophy, or parting ways with a spokesperson for comments they made, no business, entity or charity wants their name connected to what’s going on in State College — even if indirectly.
Harris fired back at Ravenstahl’s letter, saying his views were “interpreted as my apparent disregard and absence of concern for the victims of alleged sexual abuse.“
Harris is entitled to his belief that JoePa should have been retained, but he also invited himself into an ugly situation when he made those thoughts public. Harris has to know, and perhaps he does, that this is a side effect when he bridges that connection.