Is using the shuttered Beta Theta Pi house for football weekends a good idea?
Not if you ask the man who is arguing he should own it.
Donald Abbey is an alumnus of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of the fraternity. He says that he sank millions into the Burrowes Road residence because of how much his time there meant during his years at Penn State.
But following the death of Timothy Piazza, 19, after a Beta pledge party where police say he experienced multiple falls and went 12 hours without medical attention, the chapter was permanently banned from the university. The building, however, remains on the edge of campus.
The Associated Press reported Friday that the fraternity alumni board that owns the building is offering the rooms for rent over football home games, with prices ranging from $50 to $350. The money will go toward legal fees for the chapter, which faces criminal prosecution along with 14 fraternity members. While the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter, were dropped, misdemeanors remain.
But there are other legal fees to consider.
In addition to a court battle with the State College police and Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller over video surveillance evidence seized after Piazza’s death, Alpha Upsilon is involved in a second action initiated by Abbey, who says the chapter’s behavior as well as Penn State’s ban violates the terms of the contract signed when he put $8.5 million into the fraternity house for repairs and upgrades.
Alpha Upsilon denies this, saying the money was a gift, not an obligation. Their attorneys also dispute Abbey’s total.
But when contacted about Alpha Upsilon’s email offering the football weekend accommodations, Abbey’s attorney was adamant.
“If that’s happening, it’s both an additional violation of AU’s loan agreement with Don and confirmation by AU that they have triggered repayment under the loan agreement,” Matthew Haverstick said.
The fraternity’s email echoes a document Haverstick attached to a filing in the case in June, in which alumni board president Bill Cassidy proposed going around the ban to operate the fraternity as an “eating club” in the style of Princeton and Harvard, as well as functioning as a “for-profit, semi-private club.”