We take issue with the NCAAs insistence that sanction talks with Penn State be handled in a covert manner, and were troubled by a board of trustees culture that made President Rodney Erickson believe not all members could be trusted with information about the negotiations.
The end result was another public relations mess caused by a process that compromised Penn States pledge to be more transparent.
The entire NCAA negotiations would have been better served by open hearings with the university and its leaders at which Freeh report findings and other evidence could have been presented and argued.
The NCAAs mandate that the negotiations be held in secret did bring into the open another problem: A lack of trust among Penn States trustees and top university officials.
When the board held a conference call Sunday to discuss and then support the recent consent decree, it became clear that some members and Erickson believe there are too many information leaks among the trustees.
Erickson said he consulted legal counsel and the boards executive committee during talks with the NCAA in the week leading up to the July 23 sanctions announcement. The president signed the consent agreement the night before the penalties were divulged by NCAA President Mark Emmert.
The agreement said Penn State accepted severe sanctions including a four-year ban on postseason play, the loss of football scholarships and 112 wins, and a $60 million fine.
However, as Erickson said, the alternative was a death penalty for Penn State football, likely for four years.
And although he met with advisers, Erickson did not consult with the full board of trustees which drew the ire of those outside the inner circle.
On Sunday, Erickson revealed that if terms of Penn States talks with the NCAA had been leaked to the media during the process, the deal would have been off and even harsher sanctions would have resulted.
That explains why the full board was not brought into the process.
Some board members have been leaking information to the press for months.
We certainly understand why Erickson, board Chairwoman Karen Peetz and others would be concerned that the whole negotiation effort could be sideswiped if one board member leaked even one nugget of information before the talks were completed.
The adage loose lips sink ships comes to mind.
However, if this ship had sailed in the daylight, the leakage problem would not have come into play at all.
We realize it may be easier to streamline the negotiations, to have a few individuals participate and make the critical decisions about the sanctions. But easy isnt necessarily right, and transparent it was not.
A more open process by the NCAA would have alleviated the perceived need for caution by Penn State officials. Thats where the trouble started.
If Penn State is to achieve true openness, it must seek the same commitment from organizations with which it interacts even in such turbulent times.