STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The alumni election for three seats on Penn State's Board of Trustees has drawn more attention across the commonwealth than last month's Pennsylvania presidential primary.
Results for the hotly-contested Penn State race will be announced Friday at a regularly-scheduled trustees meeting in State College. Three-plus weeks of online balloting ended Thursday, with voters choosing between an unprecedented 86 candidates.
It's the first trustees election since the board ousted football coach Joe Paterno in November following child sexual abuse charges brought against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The move angered some alumni, who also voiced concern about a perceived lack of openness among university leadership.
Two alumni watchdog groups in particular have been vocal about using the election as a way to start enacting change on the board.
The trustees race once generated little interest in the general public, let alone the more than 557,000 Penn State alumni across the country. Fewer than 12,000 voted last year; this year's race drew more than 37,000 votes to shatter the previous record set in 1990 by about 10,000 votes.
The campaign at times resembled a political race. Candidates went online to advertise and posted yard signs in the State College area. The school, for the first time, held a meet-and-greet event for all candidates the morning before the annual Blue-White spring football game two weeks ago.
Typically about six to nine candidates run. The slate has included as many as 15.
The nearly seven dozen candidates on this year's ballot ranged from Sam Zamrik, a retired engineering mechanics professor who had a graduate degree in 1961 from Penn State, to Jeff Krisciunas, the owner of a management consultant company who earned a master's in business administration in 2011.
Among the more notable candidates is lawyer Adam Taliaferro, a former defensive back for Paterno who recovered from a severe spinal cord injury suffered in 2000 while making a tackle at Ohio State. Doctors had feared he would never walk again.
Of the incumbents, only retired school teacher Anne Riley is running for re-election.
Another incumbent, David Jones, a former newspaper editor, has said he decided two years ago to limit his board tenure to 15 years, which would be in June. The third incumbent, David Joyner is leaving the board because he is now the school's acting athletic director.
Nine seats on the 32-member board are elected by alumni, with three up for re-election every year for three-year terms.
Six other seats are selected by state agricultural groups, which held their election Thursday. Incumbent Carl Shaffer, a crop farmer from Columbia County and president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, was re-elected to another three-year term.
Board newcomer Donald Cotner, the president of an egg production and packaging business from Montour County, won the other seat being vacated by fruit and vegetable farmer Barron Hetherington. He opted against running after becoming an adviser last year to Gov. Tom Corbett, who is also scheduled to attend Friday afternoon's meeting as an ex-oficio board member.