A University of Nebraska regent said Thursday he fears for the safety of the Nebraska football traveling party and fans attending Saturday's game at Penn State. He wants assurances a security plan is in place to protect them.
Regent Tim Clare of Lincoln said he began worrying about safety while watching televised coverage of the scene in State College, Pennsylvania after coach Joe Paterno's firing was announced Wednesday night. He said Penn State has a raucous atmosphere on a normal football Saturday and the school owes Nebraska answers.
Hundreds of Penn State students took to the streets of State College for about three hours Wednesday night to chant their support for the ousted coach amid the furor linked to the handling of sex abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach.
Students gathered about two blocks from the campus, with some chanting "We want Joe! We want Joe!" Some shook a lamp post and others tipped over a news van, kicking out its windows. At least one photographer was pelted with a rock. Vehicles parked downtown had windows broken.
State College police have identified numerous suspects who are under investigation for crimes such as riot, attempted arson and other counts. Investigators are also reviewing video footage. Police are not saying how many arrests were made.
Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday that his force is "taking extra precautions and has added additional resources for the game."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is asking students to refrain from further violence. Corbett said actions speak louder than words. He said students have the right to express their opinions, but not the right to violence. Corbett said that when students chant "we are Penn State," they should make sure they're demonstrating Penn State at its best.
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne released this statement:
“I am saddened to learn of the recent events at Penn State and we will continue to monitor the developments on their campus. We will hold the alleged victims and all those involved in our thoughts and prayers.
We have had a number of inquiries from fans regarding the circumstances at Penn State and the conditions they might expect in attending the game. UNL Chief of Police Owen Yardley is in touch with the Penn State Police Department and we have talked with interim Penn State Athletic Director Mark Sherburne. We have visited with Penn State security and we understand they are enhancing their security efforts for Saturday’s game and are taking extra precautions to ensure that all players, coaches and fans are treated in a respectful way.
We also appreciate that there is a student-led effort at Penn State to respectfully welcome Nebraska fans to Beaver Stadium and into the Big Ten Conference. We know that our fans will reciprocate and display good sportsmanship toward Penn State’s fans and players.”