Penn State alum's baseball status at issue in trustee bid

Anthony Lubrano, Penn State alum. (From his company website - www.aplubrano.com)
Anthony Lubrano, Penn State alum. (From his company website - www.aplubrano.com)
Posted: March 09, 2012

Anthony Lubrano, who has been waging a high-profile campaign for an alumni seat on the Pennsylvania State University board of trustees, has been featured for years in the school's baseball media guide as a four-time letter-winner from 1979 to 1982. And his application for trustee describes him as a "varsity baseball player at his alma mater."

The problem is that Lubrano, 51, a major donor whose name is on Penn State's baseball complex, acknowledges that he neither lettered nor played in an official game. He said in an interview Friday that he was only on the equivalent of the "practice squad."

Lubrano said he did not know about the media-guide listing until recently, when some alumni began complaining.

"I don't think anyone who misrepresents himself like that should be on the ballot for the board of trustees," said John Zipay of Cliffside Park, N.J., a 1974 Penn State graduate who complained in an e-mail to the Penn State board.

"His name is on the stadium," Zipay said in an interview. "This is a fellow who should know that his name and photo are in the media guide. He's done nothing to correct it."

Lubrano disagreed. "I have never said I was a four-year letterman in Penn State baseball," he said. "I have never claimed I was a scholarship player. I've never said anything that was untrue."

Filling the board's seats is normally a low-key affair. But the board's handling of the child-sex scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has made the race for three trustee seats the most contested in memory, attracting a field of more than 80 candidates. Lubrano, a financial adviser from Glenmoore, Chester County, has been especially outspoken, denouncing the board for firing football coach Joe Paterno and pressing for the ouster of its current members.

Alumni earn a spot on the ballot by gaining the signatures of 50 alumni. Lubrano is running as part of a ticket known as Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. In the alumni election last year, more than 190,000 alumni were eligible to vote, though only 11,000 did. Ballots go out next month, and voting is expected to be much heavier this time.

Lubrano said that he had no knowledge of how the mistake was made in the guide and that he would seek a correction but did not think he had an obligation to do so.

"Do I have an obligation to call you and correct every one of your facts?" he asked a reporter.

University spokesman Bill Mahon said Lubrano was first described as a letterman in the 2007 guide. An employee saw an article describing Lubrano as a letterman and decided on his own to add him to the list, Mahon said.

"He thought, 'Oh, we overlooked this,' " Mahon explained.

Mahon said he did not know what article or document listed Lubrano as a letterman, but would check into it.

Lubrano is not in the baseball team picture in the Penn State Year Book online for 1979, 1981, or 1982. There was no team picture in the online version for 1980.

The issue of Lubrano's baseball status has become a matter of debate on BlueWhite Illustrated, a Penn State sports website, and a topic of discussion in the blogosphere.

"As a utility catcher (I was non-scholarship and thus was relegated to the equivalent of the Practice Squad)," Lubrano wrote in an e-mail to someone who inquired about his status, "though I did get an opportunity to dress on several occasions. Nevertheless, I felt very much a part of the team in 1979, 1980, and the fall of 1981."

Lubrano dismisses the controversy as people having "an ax to grind. When people don't agree with you, they're going to look for an opportunity to discredit you."

Two former Penn State baseball players from his era backed Lubrano's story.

"He was on the squad," said Michael Guman, who played baseball at Penn State but was best known for his football career - he spent nine years as a running back for the Los Angeles Rams.

Guman said Lubrano "was involved in the team and the practices and the things that we did. I remember throwing to him."

Now a vice president for OppenheimerFunds in Allentown, he said Lubrano was a friend.

Tom Verducci, a senior sports writer for Sports Illustrated who is also a commentator for the MLB Network, said Lubrano practiced with the team.

"I was doing the same thing as a walk-on, practicing with the team," he said. Verducci said he played in one game.

Lubrano said: "I was on the Penn State baseball team. I love baseball. I made that team as a walk-on. I was the person behind that baseball facility. Those are the facts."

Lubrano pledged $2.5 million toward construction of the baseball complex, which is called Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. (Charles "Chuck" Medlar was a Penn State baseball coach.) So far, Lubrano said, he has paid $2.25 million for the field, dedicated in 2006. He said he intended to pay the remaining $250,000.


Contact Susan Snyder

at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ssnyderinq.

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