Backing Paterno costs Harris casino gig
A southwestern Pennsylvania racetrack and casino is putting its relationship with Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris on hiatus for comments he made in support of ousted Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, located in Washington, Pa., about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, issued a statement on Tuesday saying Harris and the harness racing track have "mutually decided to put their business relationship on hold."
Harris and former Steelers backfield mate Rocky Bleier recently signed on to serve as spokesmen for the track and are featured in at least one TV commercial recently in heavy rotation in the Pittsburgh market.
Harris, who played for Paterno from 1968-71, last week chastised the school's board of trustees for showing "no courage" for firing Paterno in the wake of sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno was fired by the Penn State University board of trustees as the football program and university were rocked by a sex-abuse scandal. Former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky faces 21 felony charges related to the sexual abuse of young boys. Some alleged assaults reportedly occurred in the Penn State locker room, where Sandusky still had access following his retirement in 1999.
His loyalty to his former coach was clear in his comments following Paterno's dismissal.
"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go," Harris told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last week. "I'm very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They were saying the football program under Joe was at fault.
"They really wouldn't give a reason. They're linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover-up. That's very disturbing to me. I think there should be no more connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach. I'm still trying to find out who gave him access to the building, who signed that contract."