A group of Penn State trustees has called for a special meeting of the board to consider a resolution proposed by trustee Anthony Lubrano to fight the consent decree, which allowed unprecedented NCAA sanctions after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
In a letter sent Monday to board Chairman Keith Masser, nine alumni-elected trustees call for a special meeting Monday at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. An executive session would begin at 2 p.m. with a public session to follow at 4 p.m.
The nine trustees “seek to re-engage the other trustees in the case against the NCAA, particularly those trustees who joined the board after decisions made by November 2011 and July 2012 trustees,” wrote Lubrano and trustees Al Lord and Bill Oldsey in a press release sent to the media Wednesday.
Lubrano’s resolution, which was presented at the Nov. 14 board of trustees meeting, proposes that Penn State switch sides in the Commonwealth Court lawsuit brought by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state Treasurer Rob McCord against the NCAA. The suit seeks to keep the $60 million fine imposed on Penn State as part of the consent decree in Pennsylvania.
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The university and the NCAA are defendants in the case, and the nine trustees want Penn State to join the plaintiffs.
Masser, according to a letter sent to the entire board Wednesday in response to the request for a special meeting, said he had asked the alumni-elected trustees to withdraw the request, which they declined to do.
“I continue to be concerned by the single-minded focus and the steady stream of resolutions that have required inordinate amounts of trustee time spent on one issue, and deflected attention from a wide range of vital university issues,” Masser wrote. “This is a significant problem. It is incumbent upon this board to devote more time in 2015 dealing with the critical issues that affect our university and, most importantly, our students.”
Lubrano’s resolution was prompted by recent revelations from court filings that revealed that the NCAA may have “bluffed” Penn State officials into accepting the epic sanctions that included — in addition to the $60 million — reduced scholarships, a four-year bowl ban and removal of 111 football victories under former head coach Joe Paterno.
According to the resolution, based on internal NCAA emails, “the board has come to believe that the NCAA intended its threat of the ‘death penalty’ to frighten or ‘bluff’ Penn State into accepting sanctions the NCAA had no authority or jurisdiction to impose.”
It also questions the NCAA’s involvement with the Freeh investigation and whether the Freeh Group was working independently in its investigation of Penn State’s role in the Sandusky scandal.
“Therefore, be it resolved,” the proposal states, “that the board hereby authorizes and instructs the university’s counsel to file an appropriate motion in the Commonwealth Court to realign Penn State as a plaintiff” in the suit.
This is not the first time the group has sought an open discussion on the matter. When Lubrano’s resolution was proposed at the Nov. 14 meeting, he sought further discussion but was shot down.
Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Casey proposed having an executive session discussion in January. But the alumni-elected trustees balked.
“If we walk away from this and say kick it down the road to January, this is a serious, serious mistake,” trustee Bob Jubelirer said before making a motion to discuss the proposal, which was quickly denied.
“I recognize that there is a trial set for early January and the proposed resolution could be moot by the time of the January meeting,” Masser wrote in response to the meeting request. “Nevertheless, this was known at the time the board voted to postpone consideration, and a clear majority voted for the postponement. In these circumstances, I think it is counter to the will of the majority to go forward with a discussion and action prior to the time expressly set by vote of the board of trustees in November.”
The letter to Masser, in addition to Lubrano, Lord, Oldsey and Jubelirer, is signed by Edward Brown, Barbara Doran, Ryan McCombie, Alice Pope and Adam Taliaferro.