LaVar Arrington endorsed Penn State's plan to invest $48.3 million to upgrade its football facilities and challenged university trustee Jay Paterno's vote against the proposal, saying it "blew me away."
Arrington, the former Penn State All-American and NFL All-Pro linebacker, said on Fox Sports' 'Up On Game: Bonus Content' podcast that Penn State coach James Franklin "saved the program" and deserves the resources to continue improving it.
Further, Arrington said that Paterno's vote against the project represented a "campaign to create cracks" in the program.
"We have a coach [in Franklin] who saved our program basically," Arrington said on the podcast with co-host Mike Harmon. "He saved our program, and we’re basically saying we’re not going to give him any more resources to be able to try to build the program. But if [Paterno] were the head coach, which you tried to be the head coach, you would want all of the resources possible for you to be able to have success so that you could build that program and keep your job and try to rebuild the brand and the legacy that was built by your dad [Joe Paterno].
"So I feel like this was the start of a campaign to create cracks that actually, possibly get James Franklin out of coaching at Penn State. And I didn't like it."
Jay Paterno, a Penn State assistant coach from 1995-2011, on Friday voted against an athletics department proposal to spend $48.3 million to upgrade the Lasch Football Building. The proposal represents the first phase of a $69 million plan to renovate the football facility that Penn State's Board of Trustees initially approved in 2019.
In explaining his vote, Jay Paterno said that Penn State should not borrow and allocate money for a football project while cutting budgets, reducing salaries and furloughing some employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Penn State's athletic department is self-funding and has said that the project would be financed through donations and borrowing. No tuition dollars or general funds would be allocated to the project, according to an athletic department statement.
Penn State's Board of Trustees voted 27-6 to approve the funding.
"Now we are being asked to borrow and allocate $48 million to make additions to a football building that has already undergone $36 million in renovations that included the desired recruiting updates — a new lobby, locker room, player lounge and academic support center," Jay Paterno told the board at Friday's meeting. "And by the time the next phase is done, we will have spent $105 million on this building. Some have advocated spending even more.
"At the same time, we have students sleeping in the [Hetzel Union Building] at night, we have students who are hungry. We battle to make Penn State more affordable. We have a moral obligation to do that. How do we look the people we are asking to make sacrifices in the eye and then borrow and spend this money?"
Fellow trustee Brandon Short, who played linebacker alongside Arrington in the 1990s, said Penn State should be investing "much more" in the football program to prevent it from falling behind other national powers.
Arrington said the spending is necessary not only for the program but also for the university.
"We're talking about money that's being generated through the football program," Arrington said. "You would not have State College where it is and as developed as it is if you did not have a football program that generated constant growth in that farm town."
The conversation about Penn State, which touches on multiple issues, begins at about the 46-minute mark of the "Up On Game" podcast.
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