Penn State student trustee Peter Khoury asks for withdrawal from Paterno lawsuit

mdawson@centredaily.comSeptember 30, 2013 


Trustee members Joel Myers, left, and Peter Khoury, right, during an interview. Four members of the Penn State Board of Trustees held an interview with the Centre Daily Times January 19, 2012, at the Nittany Lion Inn. Nabil K. Mark

The Penn State student trustee who said he was forced to withdraw from the Paterno family’s lawsuit against the NCAA has filed the formal paperwork to make his exit official.

A notice for Peter Khoury was filed Monday in Centre County Court. The notice said he “voluntarily” removes himself but does not go into details.

Khoury’s decision stems from an ultimatum he said he was given by board of trustees leadership: Either quit the lawsuit or be removed from the committee that is heading the search for the successor to President Rodney Erickson. He said he chose to withdraw so that he will not jeopardize his role as the voice of tens of thousands of Penn State students during that process.

“My decision to come off of the suit entails looking at my unique position being a student who represents the university’s interest and also looking at what would be best to continue ensured and effective participation of a student in critical university matters here,” Khoury said when he announced last month that he was going to withdraw.

In a statement last month in response to Khoury’s revelation, Penn State said Khoury faced a conflict of interest that would have required him to recuse himself from important parts of the selection committee’s search.

“In light of these significant limitations on his ability to perform his role as a trustee, trustee Khoury had to make a choice between his personal interests as a plaintiff in litigation and his role as a trustee member of the presidential search committee,” spokesman David La Torre said in the statement.

Khoury, who is studying for his master’s degree in health administration, is one of five trustees who were plaintiffs when the Paterno family’s lawsuit was filed in Centre County in May. Khoury is the only plaintiff who is involved with the presidential search committee. The remaining four are Anthony Lubrano, Adam Taliaferro, Alvin Clemens and Ryan McCombie.

Paterno family members, former Nittany Lions players and coaches, and Penn State professors round out the rest of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that seeks to overturn all the sanctions the NCAA imposed on Penn State, including a $60 million fine, a postseason bowl ban, scholarship reductions and deleting 112 wins from the history books.

Board leaders have said they have concerns over any trustee being a party in the lawsuit, saying that creates a conflict of interest spelled out in the university’s bylaws. Football coach Bill O’Brien was critical of the lawsuit during a closed-door executive session in July in which he discussed a proposal asking for a modification of the sanctions.

The NCAA beat Penn State to that last week, though, as the organization’s leaders gave their OK to incrementally restoring all of the scholarships Penn State lost from the sanctions.

Lawyers for the Paterno supporters and the NCAA are scheduled to give oral arguments Oct. 29 at the courthouse in Bellefonte.

The NCAA has said the lawsuit is devoid of legal merits and is asking for out-of-county Judge John B. Leete to throw it out.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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