Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Penn State trustees: Crisis-management 'playbook,' training among responses to Freeh report

A plan for dealing with whatever future crisis might hit the Penn State board of trustees was one of the topics of discussion Thursday during work sessions

Outreach committee Chairman Mark Dambly said the board didn’t have a management plan — a “playbook” for dealing with crises — until now.

That committee was finalizing one that will go to the full board for approval.

“It would also be our objective to have a crisis-management training session of the board and staff,” Dambly said.

The crisis management plan, public relations efforts and recommendations from the Freeh Report were some of the topics that board committee reviewed during a session Thursday afternoon. The seminars, which included ones for other board committees, were open to the public for the first time as part of the board’s efforts to be open.

The report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal from Louis Freeh includes 119 recommendations to the university. Outreach committee members agreed that one of those recommendations — giving board members email addresses and making them available to the public — isn’t necessary.

Dambly said after the meeting that the board has a general email address.

He said the board had made a “180-degree” change from where it was two years ago and pointed to the members of the public and press who were at the work session as examples.

“I don’t know how much more open we can be,” he said.

Trustees’ voting meeting starts today at 1:30 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn and will include the board’s first public comment period.

The board’s new policy would have allowed up to 10 people to address the board, but only seven signed up to speak.

One of them is Ceil Masella, a 1972 Penn State graduate and wife of Brian Masella, who played football when Joe Paterno was coach.

She said she thinks the board has mishandled the situation, and her biggest question is about discrepancies between what President Rodney Erickson and Ed Ray, who was chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, said about the NCAA sanctions. Erickson said if the university hadn’t accepted the sanctions — including a four-year bowl ban and $60 million fine — it would have faced the “death penalty.”

Ray said the NCAA hadn’t threatened the university with those sanctions.

“Somebody’s lying,” Masella said.

She said she thinks there’s a very large constituency that’s getting more upset with the board.

“You can’t move past it until you make some effort to fix it,” she said.

The board added a 30-minute comment period as parts of its efforts to be more open and accessible in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy

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