Tuesday, September 25



By Barry Bozeman

Why were Vic Surma Sr and John P Surma so angry after 2007? 
What made Vic Sr angry enough to threaten Joe Paterno with tirades on a listserv 
for former PSU football players?  - THE SURMA VENDETTA 

In 2003, Vic Surma Sr was quoted in Rich Scarcella's book,

"Joe instilled in us how to win.
He's a special man, a special person.
There's nobody better at taking high
school players and making them men."

                                  ~VICTOR SURMA

What would cause Victor Surma Sr. to go from that glowing praise for Joe Paterno in 2003 to this threatening indictment in 2007?
Victor Surma <vsurma8215@> wrote:  The Rat has hurt so many young men; destroyed their self esteem, ruined their confidence, etc.  I feel it is my obligation to expose his fraud to the national media before he checks out. I'm starting with the Pittsburgh Reporter and hope to take his fraud national!!!  I hope you understand.  I was a 3 year letterman – have no axe to grind – just want to set the record straight on the RATS legacy.  Vic S”
That is a rather incredible change of heart to occur in 4 years.

Even more important is the same change of attitude of John P. Surma at the same time. People who knew John were confused by his evident change of heart because he had been a staunch Paterno supporter but after 2007 made no attempt to hide his antipathy for the aging coach. John P. Surma is the younger brother to Vic Surma and was Vice Chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees in Nov of 2011.

John P. Surma led the charge to fire Joe Paterno 

Near the back of a conference room littered with coffee cups and plates of half-eaten fudge brownies and chocolate-chip cookies, a 79-year-old trustee and philanthropist named Mimi Coppersmith stood up and beseeched her colleagues to reconsider what they were poised to do. "Coach Paterno is revered here in State College," she said. (Image Mimi Coppersmith) 
"We're not going to drink the Kool-Aid," snapped John P. Surma, then the board's vice chairman and the chief executive officer of United States Steel Corp. "This is what we need to do."  
Surma then asked whether any trustee objected to the firing of coach Joe Paterno.             The question was met with silence.

In 2003 Vic Jr. had been a pretty good high school wide receiver. He was good enough to earn a scholarship offer to a Division One school - Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. The home of the famous Kent State Massacre back in 1970. 

But Vic Surma Jr. and his father. decided instead that Vic Jr. would become a "preferred" walk on at Penn State - the Alma Mater of his father and his uncle John P.Surma. 

The two of three Vic Jr years were very bad by Penn State standards 3 Ws 9 L's in 2003 4 - 7 in 2004 Vic did not play much and was at the bottom of the depth chart at the Wide Receiver position.  

One contributor writes 
Briefly…Surma was never a factor.  He played in one game in 2003, one in 2004, none in 2005.  I don’t even remember him.  I do remember his dad, who was a starter on our great undefeated ’69 team.

In 2005, we got three great freshman WR’s.  One, Derrick Williams, was the #1 overall recruit coming out of high school that year.  Deon Butler was a scholarship guy, not as highly regarded, but had a great four years there.  Jordan Norwood was actually a walk-on whose dad was a coach.  All played significantly in 2005.   Surma was off the  map…never cracked the four-deep depth chart.  I’d guess the only playing time he got in the two games in ’03 and ’04 were mop-up duty, either as a WR or on special teams.
The team had great success in 2005 going from 9th to 1st with an Orange Bowl win, but Vic left the team following the Orange Bowl and eventually left State College and Pennsylvania. 

Vic Sr obviously felt strongly about having his son play for Joe Paterno in 2003 opting to pay for his education there instead of him getting a ride at Kent State. 

The 2003 Roster lists no less than 17 Wide Receivers with only 2 Seniors 
  1. 15        Mike Baird      WR            6-3              191                  SO*            
  2. 1          Terrell Golden  WR            6-3            204                  FR            
  3. 2          Josh Hannum  WR            6-0           171                  FR*            
  4. 84        Jamal Huff       WR            6-2            170                  SO*            
  5. 11        Tony Johnson  WR            5-11          209                  SR             
  6. 46     Zachary Moran   WR            6-2            187                  FR*            
  7. 13        Kinta Palmer   WR            6-4            188                  SO*            
  8. 84 Brendan Perretta    WR            5-7            166                  FR            
  9. 1       Anwar Phillips    WR            6-1             179                  SO*            
  10. 9   Terrance Phillips    WR            5-11            187                  SO*           
  11. 83        Ryan Scott     WR            6-2             193                  JR*            
  12. 80        Scott Shirley  WR            6-0            198                  SR*             
  13. 19        Gerald Smith  WR            5-10          190                  JR*             
  14. 81        Jason Stryker WR            6-2            198                  JR*            
  15. 82        Vic Surma      WR            6-0            198                  FR*            
  16. 31        Ernie Terrell   WR            6-3            197                  SO*    
  17. 15        Brent Wise    WR            5-10            195                  FR                                                         
Even knowing that all of these players would not end up staying or playing that position that is a huge amount of competition for those WR spots with only 5 upper classmen. 

As a result of this competition and/or his inability to compete effectively his playing time was minimal. The exact reasons for his leaving the team in 2006 are not public but we have some stories to share.

We asked the question: What would make the Surma's so angry to turn their attitudes about Joe Paterno 180 degrees from 2004 to 2007? 

And boy did we get answers.  

I have received messages from at least a dozen reliable sources that indicate Vic Jr had what his father considered "problems" after leaving PSU. Since several of those stories all have a common theme, it's difficult to discount them, particularly given several of the sources. For my purposes in this discussion, it is not about Vic's lifestyle choices. This is more importantly about Vic’s family - particularly the reaction of Vic’s father -- to his lifestyle choices.

It appears that Vic Sr became enraged at Joe Paterno for something far more important than the limited playing time his son received while he was a member of the Nittany Lion football team. It wouldn't be the first time a father became enraged with a coach over a playing time issue; but in this case, the rage seems to go much deeper than that “soccer mom” mentality.

Fathers and sons often fall-out over lifestyle choices. There is nothing new or odd about that; but it seldom results in the kind of antipathy that Vic Sr. demonstrated toward Joe Paterno in those list serv posts in 2007. This, in addition to the time frame factor, is another reason why I believe that whatever choices Vic Jr made caused serious problems, not only between Vic Jr and his father, but also between his father and Joe as well as his uncle and Joe.

Everyone who cares about Joe and Penn State wonders what situation led to John Surma's decision to cancel Joe's Nov 8th Press Conference and his drive to fire Joe Wed night Nov 9th  that so obviously caused such serious damage to the University. It is clear the John P Surma Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees was the prime mover in the coup that destroyed Joe's reputation. John P. Surma acting alone made the decision that cancelled Joe's Tuesday press conference and he along with the business and industry Trustees and Gov Corbett's nominees and supporters drove the proceedings that ended in termination of Joe and Dr Spanier. 

That signaled the media that the Board basically agreed that Joe and the PSU administrators were guilty of covering up for Jerry Sandusky. All they needed to do was to stand on the side of right and call for everyone to wait and see what proof Attorney General Kelly had for this outrageous claim of cover up. That would have required the Media to seek the truth and be diligent and fair in their reporting. Instead the firing of Joe and Spanier by the board left no doubt in the minds of the media that Joe and PSU were complicit in the cover up that Kelly described. Of course it is now clear that cover up story is a LIE as was much of the presentment. 

Surma, Corbett and the powers on the board then compounded that error by hiring disgraced former FBI failure Louis Freeh to write another indictment claiming cover up based on NO EVIDENCE. What on earth would have made this happen? Limited playing time for Vic Surma Jr? I think not.

DISCLAIMERProof in this kind of situation is difficult to come by. We thought long and hard about posting this story. The mainstream media has been against Joe since the Board of Trustees - actually John Surma - fired him in November so we can't  count on them digging for anything that runs counter to their narrative. We are reticent to post about the personal life of any individual - but in the end this is an extraordinary situation and if personal problems or preferences played a role in what happened to Joe and Penn State they should be explored. We see our role as raising these questions so the media that should be informing us might grow enough curiosity to ferret out the TRUTH instead of being spoon fed the Corbett and Surma line. Many people are afraid to come forward with what they know due to the massive antipathy toward Joe and PSU. Since these reports are not credited you are wise to take that into account. But we feel that they seem to fit the situation and are therefor something you should know. 


No less than seven confidential sources supplied and confirmed parts of the following information:
Vic Jr. had a pretty bad drug problem that went back to his time with the team. He had at least one positive drug test.  
One reason for hard feelings may lie in his personal relationship with an older man not involved with coaching or the team. (Not Jerry Sandusky). This guy was married but in a relationship with Vic Jr while he was in college. When he tried to cut it off Vic lost it and went missing for days holed up in a motel just outside of Pittsburgh. A PSU coach concerned by this tired to  bring him back because they were worried for his overall safety. 
Vic Sr was notified that it might be best for Vic Jr to stay away from the football program until he got some help. This was a problem the coaches couldn't and shouldn't deal with. The coaching staff tried to get help for him and he refused the help
The Surma family put the problem on Joe and never forgave him. Joe then washed his hands if the situation as he should have. If Vic Jr. would not accept the help he was offered there was nothing else that Joe or the coaching staff could or should do. This was a Surma family problem. 
Vic Jr then left Pennsylvania and went to California and Florida and worked as a male model. His modling and preferences were made public and he continued to have a substance abuse problem according to no less than three separate sources. 
One source said he returned to Pittsburgh and went into rehabilitation in 09 or 2010 and got a good job but in Nov 2011 he relapsed and lost his job. This relapse was not because of being upset about Jerry Sandusky. It was about his father and uncle and what happened with Joe Paterno and Penn State. 
Joe and the Surma family never talked again after Vic Jr. left the team. The timeline fits perfectly with the Surma family change of attitude toward Joe.
No less than seven separate sources have intimated to us that there were lifestyle and drug problems with Vic Surma Jr. and that is supported by arrest records in May, June, and September of this year. 

On May 28, 2012 an arrest for DUI – “controlled substances”, Reckless Driving, and Criminal Mischief/ Damage to Property with Intent

Just 2 weeks later a second arrest for DUI – “controlled substances” was made.

A Criminal Attorney in Pennsylvania informs me these are both listed as "First Offense" because:
The first DUI was not "adjudicated" before he got the 2nd. In PA, whatever happens in Court to "end" the first DUI must occur prior to the 2nd arrest for the 2nd arrest to count as a second DUI. Hence, he is being prosecuted with two first offenses.
He goes on to say
he'll have to answer for both offenses. Assuming negotiated guilty pleas in both cases, the only real questions is: what are my penalties? That particular question is usually re-phrased: How good is my lawyer; or, how good do my lawyer and the DUI prosecutor get along?
Vic Jr. has 4 separate incidents this year (Arrest dates of May 9, May 28, June 19, Sept 1), with various charges.   There are six documents, because two of them got moved up from the District Magistrate to the higher Court of Common Pleas.) We are currently having a search done for past years.

a.  Traffic docket MJ-05003-TR-001304-2012. Illegal parking within 50 ft of RR Crossing.  5-9-12. Guilty.  Docket Closed – seems to be more to this than just a simple parking ticket.
b.   Criminal docket MJ-05003-CR-0005407-2012 arrest date of 5-28-12.  Transferred to CCP docket CP-02-CR-0011575-2012. Formal arraignment scheduled 10-15-12.
            i.      DUI: Controlled Substance 1st offense
           ii.      Crim Misch/Dmg Prop Intent, Reckless, Or Neglig
          iii.      Reckless Driving
          iv.      DUI: Gen Imp/Inc of Driving Safely 1st offense
c.  Criminal docket MJ-052210-CR-0000189-2012 arrest date of 6-19-12. Transferred to CCP docket CP-02-CR-0011919-2012. Formal arraignment scheduled 10-24-12.
          i.      Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Control
         ii.      DUI: Controlled Substance Impaired ability 1st offense
        iii.      Driving at Unsafe Speed
d.  Criminal docket MJ-05221-CR-0000279-2012 arrest date of 9-1-12.  Preliminary Hearing scheduled for 11-5-12.
        i.      Charge “Prohibited Acts” 35 780-113 A32   - 

Part of the Controlled Substance and Drugs Consolidated Act 

Some may question why and how arrests in 2012 apply to the situation between 2004 and 2007 and we have people looking into that but where Vic Jr was living in 2006 and 7 after leaving the team is difficult to pin down since he appeared to be on the move. 4 situations in 4 months indicates a rather serious problem legally and given the nature of the charges something that will require help. These records are public and easily accessible on the internet. 

We wish Vic the best with his legal problems and hope he has a complete recovery from his other problems. Hopefully he will get the help he needs to turn this around. 


In 2006 Vic Jr may have disclosed his sexual preference to the evident horror and anger of his family, according to several separate sources. This is what happened first to set his father and uncle off. Two sources said Vic Jr. had become a male model in  South Florida or the Florida Keys and one has seen some pictures on the internet that have been removed. 

victor surma says:August 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm Why mention it? It’s obvious. The backlash would be worse than the Barney Frank Fairy Boat ride.
The backlash of Vic Surma Sr and his brother John's vendetta are far worse than the Barney Frank Fairy Boat ride comment on a public forum but this shows a certain prejudicial tendency on the part of Vic Sr. that may relate to his reaction to Vic Jr.s situation.

Vic Surma Junior's personal choices would be none of our business except for this:
Did Vic Surma Sr and his brother's anger at those choices and their blaming Joe Paterno lead to the actions of John P Surma in November of 2011? Surma evidently did not care what the actions of the Board did to Joe, Tim, Gary, Dr. Spanier or Penn State. Should we respect their privacy on these personal matters if they are what led to the current situation under the circumstances? 

Our concern is the efforts by Surma Sr and his brother based on their anger toward Joe. Vic Jr.s life choices are his personal business and he has every right to be who he is as do we all. But this appears to be a personal vendetta based on blind prejudice. It only serves to warn us all how damaging that kind of prejudice can be when someone like Joe is held to be responsible for anything over which he had no control.

Our purpose is not to take issue with choices that are the business of only those who make them. But if the prejudice and anger shown by Vic Sr and John P. do coincide with something of this nature it is Joe Paterno and Penn State that are paying the price for a private family matter and that cannot and should not be tolerated.

The irony and lesson to be learned from the effects of this kind of prejudice are of some importance. If Vic Jr did not become the man his father wanted him to be and was rejected and made to feel a failure because of his personal choices how is that Joe Paterno's fault? 

Becoming as angry as Vic Surma Sr and John Surma over the playing time issue with so many scholarship athletes at the WR position would be absurd. That makes the idea proposed by the people who contacted us far more likely in our view. Extreme prejudice or disappointment over something more than an inability to get significant playing time seems far more likely to have caused the extreme changes in the public contempt expressed by Vic Sr and the private change in support voiced to sources close to the Board of Trustees who noticed those changes in attitude on the part of John P Surma beginning in 2007. 

If this is even close to the situation that led to the public antipathy that Vic Surma Sr showed to Joe Paterno - that alone should have made John P. Surma recuse himself from any action concerning Joe in November of 2011. 


Trustees were asked if they saw the need for trustees John Surma and Steve Garban to step down from the board.
Surma is the CEO of United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) and had been vice chairman of the board of trustees at Penn State last fall when the scandal broke. Garban is Penn State senior vice president for finance and operations/treasurer emeritus. U.S. Steel referred all questions earlier in the day to Penn State.
Surma and Garban, according to the Freeh report, were aware of the Sandusky investigation earlier – Garban in spring 2011 and Surma in late October — but did not immediately inform fellow trustees. According to the Freeh report, Garban had “conversations with Trustees John Surma and (Eat’n Park Hospitality Group Inc. Chairman)Jim Broadhurst and told them what he had learned from Spanier” regarding pending criminal charges against Sandusky and two Penn State administrators. “Neither Garban, Spanier, Broadhurst, Surma nor (then-Penn State General Counsel Cynthia) Baldwin spoke to the remaining board members about the impending charges until after the charges were filed ... On Nov. 4, 2011,” the report said.
“The report includes some information about individuals and we have not had the chance to explore all the details,” Peetz said. 
So John P.Surma was just as guilty as Steve Garban for withholding information vital to the Board of Trustees but Garban resigned - as he should have and Surma stayed on. It is very clear that Surma should have gone as well and since he did not Joe Paterno and Penn State suffered as a result of his misguided and dangerous "leadership". Did John P Surma plan the action against Joe by refusing to inform other board members so they would not be prepared to oppose his plan to see Joe Paterno fired?

Obviously a stunned and unprepared Board of Trustees would be far easier to lead than one that was prepared and had thought out the best way to handle the presentment. We do not know who opposed the firings on that Wednesday night since any majority opinion of the board becomes unanimous and opposing board members are by rule restrained from voicing their opposition. This makes it easy for Surma to claim he was simply one of a unanimous Board of Trustees. 


A Message From Our Chairman

Integrity and ethical conduct are fundamental to our core values and vital to achieving our business goals. Sustaining ethical performance at U. S. Steel depends on each one of us acting in a way that fosters a culture of integrity. Several years ago, we adopted the phrase "Do What's Right" as shorthand for this concept. It's a simple phrase to remember, but it's not always easy to put into practice. That's why over the years we've established a comprehensive Ethics and Compliance Program to assist us in integrating "Do What's Right" into our every day activities.

APPENDIX - WR in 2004 and 2005
One person who follows Penn State sports quite closely tells me:
Tony Johnson, Ernie Terrell, Kinta Palmer, Terrell Golden, and Gerald Smith all would have been ahead of Surma. Josh Hannum, and Ryan Scott probably were as well.  Anwar Phillips and Brent Wise switched to defensive back because ot the plethora of wide receivers at some point between rosters being drawn up in 2003 and the 2004 rosters. Vic evidently could not or would not make that switch. 
It's not Vic Jr or Joe Paterno's fault that he walked on in a year when so many good new young wide receivers were on the depth chart ahead of him in the rotation. 
By 2004 the list of Wide Receivers was seriously down from 2003 The 17 WRs had become 11 with two moving to defensive back positions. 4 of the 11 were freshmen
  1. 2          Vendemia, Gio           WR            Jr.             6-0            190     
  2. 9          Phillips, Terrance       WR           Jr.            5-11           184     
  3. 11        Golden, Terrell           WR            Fr.           6-3             208
  4. 13        Palmer, Kinta            WR            Jr.             6-4             194     
  5. 17        Baird, Mike               WR            Jr.             6-3             186                 
  6. 19        Smith, Gerald            WR            Sr.            5-11           181     
  7. 21        Prokopik, Joe         K/WR          Fr.           5-11           174                 
  8. 25        Perretta, Brendan      WR          Fr.           5-7            174
  9. 80        Rubin, Mark             WR            Fr.           6-3            211
  10. 82        Surma, Vic              WR             So.            6-0            184     
  11. 83        Scott, Ryan             WR            Sr.           6-2            19
15        Wise, Brent           CB            Fr.           5-10           193     
1          Phillips, Anwar      CB            Jr.            6-1            180

By 2005 the WR's on the roster were up from 11 to 14 but 7 are freshmen
  1. 2          Williams, Derrick         WR            Fr.            6-0              195
  2. 3          Butler, Deon                WR            Fr.            5-10            167     
  3. 4          Golden, Terrell             WR            So.            6-3            208     
  4. 5          Kanuch, Jim                WR            Jr.              6-1             193     
  5. 16        Corrado, Dan               WR            Jr.            5-11            203
  6. 16        Sargeant, Lydell          WR            Fr.            5-10            183     
  7. 17        Timmons, Knowledge  WR            Fr.         5-10            178
  8. 24        Norwood, Jordan         WR            Fr.          5-10            162     
  9. 29        Mauti, Patrick             WR            Fr.            5-10            188
  10. 43        Kilmer, Ethan             WR            Sr.            6-0              203
  11. 80        Rubin, Mark               WR            So.            6-3             210     
  12. 82        Surma, Vic                  WR            Jr.            6-0              193     
  13. 83        Cousins, Kevin           WR          Fr.            6-3            199
  14. 84     McDonald, James     WR      Fr.        6-2         194


  1. Very interesting, Barry.

    It is likely that John Surma would caution your readers not to jump to any hasty conclusions, for these facts are merely circumstantial, and it would be unjust and unfair to him, and his family, to conclude that anything improper had occurred. Innocent people would be hurt.

    How ironic!

    If Surma has an ounce of honor left in his soul, he would immediately resign from the BOT and declare that he made a very major mistake in firing Joe and "leading" the BOT and Erickson down the wrong path.

  2. can you imagine the hand wringing in the Surma family when the son didn't live up to the expectations of his father? of course the father blames the coach: "If only Joe would give him a chance he would snap out of his despair and become the golden boy we want!" I can totally see a parent's fixation with perceived mistreatment by others becoming an obsession. Dad EXPECTED Joe to 'change' his son by giving him the opportunity to become a football star. Unfortunately, circumstances and talent worked against the boy and the Dad blames the coach for not letting his son live up to Dads' standards. No wonder the kid had drug problems. Look what people do for the slightest affront they perceive today? Venom, violence and vindictiveness... remember the cheerleader mom? the facebook mom who pretended to be a boy, wrote hateful things and caused a young girl to kill herself? this is the world today. parents exacting revenge on others instead of taking the time to teach their own children how to handle defeat or loss. Dad has no compassion on his own son, and instead turns his hard hearted vindictiveness towards the innocent. Can you imagine living within this family? horror of horrors! there must be loads of stories about the Surma family and the "collateral damage" they have caused.

  3. This is a well known conflict. And his sons problems were also well known in the area. Not refering to life stye choices which enraged his father far more than his drinking and drug use. As a parent I would have been more worried about the substance abuse. And the fact that he could've killed someone driving.

  4. Well, the common thought is that Joe took boys and molded them into men. One can see that the Surma clan would think that Joe failed miserably at this and that it is all his fault that the Surma family has been ruined for life by having ... gasp.... one of them in the family. (Previous sentence said very sarcastically.)
    If anything, perhaps jr. could have been successful at football at Kent State ... but living with that sort of family he still would probably have the substance abuse problem. The other... that's not a problem, that's just the way he is. From his pics in LUX magazine (no, it's not dirty ... it's a nice PGH area mag.), he probably could be a successful male model.

  5. Barry

    I wanted to send this to you privately, but could not find an email address for you anywhere. After reading through this post, I decided to do a quick search for "Vic Surma Jr" and came across this semi-interesting forum post following Sandusky's conviction in June:

    "Now, back to Paterno, Those of us who have friends on the inside of the trsutees, know that Corbett got what he wanted with paterno. Corbett had a huge grudge with paterno over campaign and monetary issues......... there will be more on thsi later when he is up for re-election. The person that I know, Vic Surma´s son, is teh wone who told me this after everything went down..... Vic Surma is my neighbor back in PA. Vic Jr.has hooked me up on several occasions with PSU gifts and things over here in Spain. He has given som einteresting insight on the situation. As far as civil suits, if there are any vs. the Paterno estate, he has told me they wil be settled out of court, and teh family wil be very generous with the victims."


    It doesn't say a whole lot, but (assuming the author is credible), this is a person who spoke with Surma Jr following the scandal breaking who has "interesting insights on the situation" from Surma Jr himself. Of course, you may have already come across this posting yourself in researching this story, but I just wanted to share it with you in case you want to reach out to this person to ask what exactly these "insights" entail.

  6. I am heartbroken for Vic Jr - he deserved a better family. The only "lifestyle" problem he had that I can see was unsupportive family.