SUNY leader eyed for top Penn State post agrees to return some padded pay

The former president of a State University of New York campus who reportedly was close to succeeding Rodney Erickson at Penn State before it was discovered he was allegedly padding his pay has agreed to return some of the money.

David Smith, former president of SUNY’s Upstate Medical University, will pay back $100,000 in money he accepted without authorization from a firm that did business with the university, the Albany Times Union newspaper reported Monday.

Smith was suspended and later resigned after the revelation, which came as Penn State reportedly was nearing a decision to name him the university’s 18th president.

Though Penn State has never identified Smith as its choice, the board of trustees was expected to name him president at a special meeting Nov. 1 that was scheduled to deal with a personnel matter. Sources said the meeting was to name a new president.

Penn State called off the meeting Oct. 30, and days later a newspaper report revealed Smith had been suspended.

At the time, board Chairman Keith Masser said something had set back the search process and that, moving forward, “all options are open.” The trustees remained tight-lipped about the search process after that, and eventually named Eric Barron as Erickson’s successor in February.

Barron, a former dean at Penn State, returned to the university in May to begin his time as president.