Despite intermittent snow showers and blustery winds, Penn State alumni vying for a seat on the school's Board of Trustees handed out buttons and fliers on Saturday while campaigning for votes before the school's annual spring football scrimmage.
It's the biggest gathering to ask for votes during the monthlong election period that ends May 2. Thirty-nine candidates are on the ballot for three seats up for grabs in online voting that began April 10.
The race once generated little interest, but that changed in the aftermath of the child sex-abuse scandal that started following former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest in November 2011.
Candidate Ted Brown handed out campaign buttons to nearly every alumnus he saw tailgating, while Barbara Doran asked for votes while playing in an alumni field hockey game Saturday morning. John Diercks rode in a pedicab donned with posters and frequently stopped to discuss issues.
Many candidates say they want to reform leadership and promote alumni interests. Some have questioned how university leadership handled the firing of the late coach Joe Paterno and the acceptance of NCAA sanctions on the football program for the scandal.
Most also say they're focusing on other fiscal and academic issues affecting the university's future.
Alumni hold nine of the 32 board seats, with terms lasting three years. About 22,000 have already voted in this year's election; a record 37,000 ballots were cast last year. Penn State boasts about 560,000 alumni across the country.
"The reason to be elected on the board is because things haven't changed for the better,'' Brown said. "Some things haven't changed, and some have gotten worse.''
Several candidates hold endorsements from a vocal alumni interest group and the Paterno family.
Richard McClure, a 1979 graduate from St. Petersburg, Fla., said he's voting for those candidates, and that he shares the interests of those critics ``to get the truth out'' in the Sandusky scandal and restore Paterno's legacy.
Paterno died in January 2012, two months after being fired by the university. Trustees have said he was ousted in part because he didn't meet a moral obligation to do more to alert authorities about allegations against Sandusky, his retired defensive coordinator. Paterno's family has vehemently denied any suggestion that he would cover up such allegations.
Many alumni interviewed Saturday said they're not concerned about endorsements.
"I don't listen to interest groups,'' said Randy Flynn, a 2007 graduate. "I'd rather not be swayed by one group of another.''
Flynn, 28, of Manassas, Va., plans to do his own research on candidates before he casts his ballot. He said having an endorsement doesn't mean a candidate has strong morals or leadership ability.
Alumnus Tom Moore said it was time to move on.
Moore, a 1976 graduate who works in Penn State's development and alumni relations office, said there are more important issues on which to focus besides those related to Paterno, like finding a replacement for outgoing school president Rodney Erickson.
"People need to move beyond the Paterno thing ... it's not helping,'' said Moore, 58, of State College. "We don't have enough alumni voting.''