The settlement of state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord’s lawsuit with the NCAA and Penn State brings some legal issues to a close for the university, but it leaves other questions open.
Penn State President Eric Barron addressed some of those at a news conference after Friday’s board of trustees meeting.
The new deal between the university and the college sports organization that will take the place of the consent decree is one of the items up in the air.
“Penn State and the NCAA will enter into a new Athletics Integrity Agreement that (with concurrence of the Big Ten) includes best practices with which the university is committed to comply and that provides for the university to continue to retain the services of Sen. George Mitchell and his firm to support the university’s activities under the Athletics Integrity Agreement and in the areas of compliance, ethics and integrity,” the NCAA said in its statement.
When asked about how that new agreement will be negotiated and what it will entail, Barron was firm on the idea that no matter what it entailed, Penn State had nothing to worry about.
“The athletic integrity agreement focuses on our continued compliance and athletic integrity. Regardless, this institution is committed to athletic integrity, compliance and ethics. This doesn’t change that commitment,” he said.
The Big Ten would also be a part of that agreement. With the repeal of the NCAA penalties, the punishments levied by the conference are the only ones still in force. Barron said he has had conversations with his fellow Big Ten university presidents, but could not give specifics about future action on that front.
Conversations with officials at other universities were also questioned regarding possible overstep by the NCAA.
Discovery documents in the Corman and McCord case uncovered allegations of “bluffing” of the university by the NCAA as to threats of the death penalty for the football program. Barron was unwilling to condemn the organization harshly.
“They came to a decision with the best possible motive of not wanting to have such things occur,” Barron said. “There is little purpose in trying to fault them.”
Barron said he was involved in the settlement talks for “a long time” and that negotiations went on right up until Corman’s announcement.
But the news was not well-received in all alumni and supporter corners.
“One of the wonderful things about Penn Staters is they are passionate,” Barron said, adding that with more than 600,000 graduates, it was unrealistic “to expect all alumni to be on the same page.”