Penn State’s board of trustees is holding a special meeting Wednesday, to consider a possible settlement in a lawsuit over how $60 million in fine money levied against the university can be spent.
The university published a legal notice in the Centre Daily Times announcing a meeting “to consider a potential litigation settlement.”
A Penn State spokesman confirmed last week that there have been talks in a lawsuit brought by state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, against the NCAA over the Endowment Act, a law that seeks to keep the $60 million in fines in Pennsylvania.
“Settlement discussions are ongoing with respect to a possible resolution of the Corman v. NCAA litigation,” spokesman David La Torre said in an email. “One of the matters being discussed is the appropriate time to convene a meeting of the board of trustees to discuss a possible settlement.”
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The trustees are meeting via conference call, and the public can listen at wpsu.org/live .
An executive session, which is closed to the public, starts at 8 a.m. Wednesday, and the public meeting begins at 8:45 a.m., according to an announcement posted on the university’s website Monday.
Last week, a group of nine alumni-elected trustees wrote a letter to board President Keith Masser asking that the trustees meet to discuss the university’s position in negotiations before talks continue.
The nine sent out another letter Monday announcing a plan to meet in person at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to participate in the conference call. They invited the public to join them, in the name of transparency.
Penn State said in a statement Monday that the board had planned the meeting before the alumni-elected trustees requested the session.
“Last week, Chairman Masser decided to call a special meeting of the board to discuss a proposed settlement of the Corman litigation,” La Torre said in an email Monday. “Prior to trustee (Al) Lord’s letter, all trustees were contacted to seek such a meeting, which has now been set for Wednesday.”
When asked whether the board is expected to vote on a potential settlement, La Torre said he had not seen the agenda and could not comment.
In their letter to supporters, the nine alumni-elected trustees said they, too, don’t know what’s on the agenda.
“Neither Chairman Masser nor the Legal Subcommittee has shared an agenda for this Wednesday’s meeting with the elected trustees,” they wrote. “As a result, we are a bit in the dark about its proceedings.”
Corman, when reached Monday by the CDT, said there have been “very preliminary discussions” in the case but no serious negotiations of a settlement. Corman said he has no knowledge of what the board will discuss Wednesday.
In his lawsuit against the NCAA, Corman is asking the organization to follow the Endowment Act.
The Commonwealth Court ruled in April that the law is constitutional, but it stopped short of forcing the NCAA to immediately comply, meaning the case continues. Discovery must be completed by Sept. 8 and the case would head to trial in January, according to a timeline set by the court.
A first clue the sides were working toward a settlement came last week, when a judge placed a hold on the lawsuit the NCAA had filed against top state officials after the Endowment Act was signed into law.
A wrinkle in the Corman case came in April when state judges questioned the validity of the consent decree, the agreement between Penn State and the NCAA that authorized a host of sanctions, including the $60 million fine, for the university’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The alumni-elected trustees have said they see negotiations in the lawsuit as a chance to have a “do-over” on the consent decree.
“We have been told the board had no opportunity to dispute the consent decree in 2012,” they wrote. “Let us not make that mistake again.”