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Joe Paterno's Speech to the BOT following his first National Championship

Delivered January 22, 1983 (29 years, to the day, before he passed away)

“I very much appreciate those words. You know this is the first Board meeting I have ever been to in 33 years so if I look a little shocked and scared, bear with me, I really do appreciate this. I would hope maybe on this occasion since I’ve never addressed a Board meeting, to maybe share some thoughts with you as to where we are and what I hope we can get done here at the University. It pleases me, obviously, to happen to be part of the Number One football team. I am pleased also that it happened at this time in Dr. Oswald’s career that he could leave feeling that he finally got it done. Having been a former coach, he knows how tough it is to get on top of the pile and everything else. It pleases me in a lot of ways. But after having said that, and I’m going to be very frank with you, and I may say some things here that maybe I should not, but it does give me an opportunity to tell you how I feel and what I want to do and what kind of contributions I’d like to make to this institution as I stay on. You know, obviously, all of us are disappointed in the newspaper reports that some of our academic departments are not rated very high. That bothers me. It bothers me to see Penn State football be Number One and then to pick up a newspaper several weeks later and we find we don’t have many of our disciplines rated up there with the other institutions in the country. I want to share just a couple of things with you and I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

“I think this is a magic time for Penn State. Dr. Oswald has said this, and I have felt it, and I think he is probably more attuned to it than anybody. There has never been a time when Penn State has been more united or proud. Now maybe it’s unfortunate that it takes a Number One football team to do that. I don’t think we can lose the opportunities that this moment presents to us, and I don’t mean in athletics. I’m not even concerned about the athletic aspects of where we are, I think we can handle that and make sure that we can maintain the kind of teams that you people like to see and you can be proud of and identify with the type of students and the type of football players we get. But I think we have got somehow to start right now. I think Dr. Oswald came to us at a time that we absolutely had to retrench in some areas and he has done a magnificent job for us. I for one want to thank him for what he has done for intercollegiate athletics. We would not be Number One in athletics if it had not been for his cooperation. Every time I ever went to him he never said no to me. I’d like to be on record as having said that. Maybe once in a while there has been somebody in between us that has not presented my case accurately, but anytime I have had an opportunity to sit with him and discuss some things that we needed, he’s never said no to me. I don’t think we’d be where we are if it hadn’t happened that way. But I go back to a fact that we are in a national situation that I have never felt as I have felt now.

“I have been all over the country in the last few weeks. I have been in Florida, been in California, I’ve been in airports in Chicago and Atlanta, you name it, and I’ve been there recruiting and doing some other things trying to capitalize on the position that you have when you’ve had success and trying to make some corrections in what we have and the abuses of the intercollegiate program. Some of the thoughts that I have expressed--and I don’t mean to make this a testimonial of Dr. Oswald--but he was one of the people that came up with the ideas that we had to raise the level for scholarship. He was one of the Council of the American Council of Education, one of the select committee, that came up with the standards that we proposed out on the Coast and I’ve gotten a lot of publicity for having made some speeches out there, but it was Dr. Oswald and some other college Presidents who got together and proposed those standards. But everywhere I’ve gone I’ve heard nothing but, ‘boy, Penn State, Penn State, what a great bunch of people, what a great institution,’ and all of those things.

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