In an open letter, Harris blasts NCAA President Mark Emmert for making what he calls a misleading, damaging and untrue statement by including Joe Paterno on his list of coaches that were fired for “misdeeds.”
"Mr. Emmert should know that before you bunch everyone together and pass judgment, you must first get all the facts and the truth about each one. Obviously, he didn’t," Harris wrote.
Harris refers to statements Emmert made in an Associated Press article.
In the article, Emmert said, “You’re seeing boards of directors, of trustees, and presidents and athletic directors saying ‘You know you’ve done a great job here. We love you. We pay you really well. You get all this adoration. You’ve got to live by the rules.’” Emmert goes on to say, “And that’s a good thing.”
Coaches such as Joe Paterno (Penn State), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas), Butch Davis (North Carolina) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) in the past had been considered "untouchable," Emmert said.
Harris wrote that he is "very disappointed" in Emmert and the NCAA for taking such a position against Paterno "in essence becoming the judge, jury and executioner."
"But this should come as no surprise to those who know the NCAA," Harris wrote.
Paterno had served as Penn State’s head coach from1966 until he was fired amidst the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. Although Paterno was never charged with any crimes in the scandal, the Penn State Board of Trustees decided he did not do enough to prevent the abuses alleged to have occurred under his watch.
Many came to Paterno’s defense, but few were as vocal than Hall of Fame running back Harris, who made headlines for telling numerous media outlets that he planned to travel to State College to ask school officials to reinstate Paterno as head coach.
That led to a "mutual postponement" of Harris' business relationship with The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane, according to a spokesman for the racetrack. Harris joined The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in September to help with philanthropy and advertising efforts.
Read the full statement below:
NCAA President Mark Emmert has made a misleading, damaging and untrue statement (AP) when he included Joe Paterno on his list of coaches that were fired for “misdeeds.” Mr. Emmert should know that before you bunch everyone together and pass judgment, you must first get all the facts and the truth about each one. Obviously, he didn’t.
I am very disappointed in Mark Emmert and the NCAA for taking this position on Joe Paterno, in essence becoming the judge, jury and executioner. But this should come as no surprise to those who know the NCAA. In the article, Emmert made the following statements:
“You’re seeing boards of directors, of trustees, and presidents and athletic directors saying ‘You know you’ve done a great job here. We love you. We pay you really well. You get all this adoration. You’ve got to live by the rules.’” Emmert went on to say, “And that’s a good thing.”
Well Mark, in reference to your statement, Joe did live by the rules of the University, of the NCAA, and of the law. However, you omitted the fact that Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football Program did not commit even one major NCAA violation in 61 years. Mr. Emmert, we are talking about a man who had a great family life, who gave so much more than he received, and whose motto of his football program was Success WithHonor. And yes, he lived by his credo as well as your rules. In fact, in 2011 Joe Paterno’s Success With Honor initiative earned Penn State the ranking of the #1 academic football program in the country.
In the article, Mark Emmert said the five coaches who were fired (Paterno, Tressel, Petrino, Davis, and Pearl) had been considered “untouchable” in the past. Well, I would like to correct Mr. Emmert. The only “untouchable” in the history of college sports is the NCAA. You and your group are not accountable to anyone, as your actions have shown through the years. The only other “untouchable” within the College and University ranks is the Board of Trustees. Once again, they are not held accountable to anyone, despite their misdeeds.
If a person or organization is found guilty of a misdeed after the investigation, I wholeheartedly support the action of them being held accountable. In my opinion, there should be no exceptions, including the NCAA and the Board of Trustees.
What do you think? Is Harris right in defending the late Paterno? Should he continue to speak out or remain silent on the matter?