Board of Trustees

Penn State trustees delay talk on NCAA emails

The Penn State board of trustees didn’t ignore the recent uproar over NCAA emails that suggested bluffing the university into accepting historic sanctions over the Sandusky scandal.

It also didn’t really talk about them.

Attorneys for state Sen. Jake Corman have filed documents over the past several days that have included emails suggesting that the college sports overseers bluffed Penn State to get them to accept a $60 million fine and other penalties, while questioning their own authority to levy that punishment. Other emails showed cooperation between the NCAA and Louis Freeh’s investigation of Penn State.

Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord are suing the NCAA and Penn State over enforcement of the Endowment Act that seeks to keep that fine money in Pennsylvania to benefit victims of child sex abuse.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano read a resolution asking the board to instruct counsel “to pursue discovery in the civil action directed to a full understanding of the NCAA’s jurisdiction and tactics in imposing sanctions on the university — and a full understanding of the NCAA’s involvement in the Freeh Group’s investigation — and report their findings to the board to obtain further direction.”

Discussion of it was stymied.

Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Casey agreed that it was an important issue but instead pushed to move the conversation behind closed doors and two months away, revising the motion to have discussion at a January executive session.

It was not an idea that went over well with the alumni-elected members of the board.

“If we walk away from this and say kick it down the road to January, this is a serious, serious mistake,” said trustee Robert Jubelirer. “Our brand has been really brutalized. I think everyone here should be sickened.”

The audience sided with him, erupting in cheers.

“Let’s go on the record and see what people really think,” Jubelirer said.

Chairman Keith Masser said no.

“We will not discuss the motion,” he said, maintaining that any conversation had to be done in executive session.

Casey quashed calls to have that happen “sooner rather than later.” Lubrano said another meeting could be called in as little as three days, meaning an executive session could be held next week.

“What are we hiding?” he asked.

“I don’t believe that a week’s time is going to allow us to give full consideration,” she said, adding there was not enough time to devote to the “really overwhelming concerns.”

“The implications of what this may mean are quite significant,” Casey said.

Trustee Keith Eckel refused to proceed without a lawyer.

“I am appalled by what I have read in the newspaper,” he said. “I have to have legal counsel advise me or I can’t meet my fiduciary responsibility.”

Ironically, the presence of lawyers was a problem in one of the NCAA’s recent legal documents. On Thursday, it argued that Penn State could not claim duress in the signing of the consent decree that accepted the sanctions because the university had access to no less than five attorneys at the time.