Friday, August 22

Bob Jubelirer: We are (still) Penn State

By Robert C. Jubelirer

The mantra Penn State nation has shouted and responded to over the years has been -"We are" and the response has been a loud, rousing and proud -"Penn State!"

No other school exhibits the kind of emotion that our fans bring to a football game or just a group of students walking outside of any Penn State event.
Sadly, we now must ask ourselves what does that mean - what does Penn State stand for?

For me it meant that no matter what the issue was, Penn Staters would do the right thing. It encompassed the legendary Joe Paterno's message of "Success with Honor."
Penn State was the poster child of how to do things the right way. It meant that education was the first and the primary thing you were responsible for and sports and other activities came after that.

Now it seems to me that we must ask ourselves after the action of the Board of Trustees to adopt (and reaffirm last week) the NCAA sanctions without board approval just who we are.

Penn State legal counsel Steve Dunham said that former President  Rodney Erickson had the full authority to make such a decision without consulting the board. Yet he has never explained just how he arrived at such a conclusion.I can't imagine any other university or organization where one person or just a few could make such a monumental decision without ever consulting with their full board to explain why this had to be done in such a fashion.

Even if the president did have this kind of authority, why did he not respond to NCAA president Mark Emmert that this was so dramatic and encompassing that he had to consult his board before he could give an answer?

The state Commonwealth Court in its opinions in April commented that the NCAA, which was challenging a law that would keep millions of dollars collected from the Penn State sanctions in the state woefully overreached and the sanctions were likely unenforceable.

The Freeh Report, which was the basis of the NCAA sanctions, has been proven to be full of holes and would not stand up in a court of law. The board totally ignored due process and reacted with a rush to judgment and with personal feelings rather than abiding by their fiduciary duty.

There should have been a cooling off period to examine the Freeh report to review their options instead of panicking at what allegedly was a threat from Emmert.

Now as part of the consequences we have certain trustees who quickly jumped to support the sanctions telling us that most of the alumni support them or pushing to reduce the number of trustees elected by the alumni. The board never stood up for Penn State!

That brings me back to my original question - who are we? We say "We are Penn State!," but the board re-defined what that meant.

Penn State stands for what is right and does not let bullies threaten us when we did absolutely nothing wrong.

I will continue to join with my colleagues on the board elected by the alumni and hope we can convince other members to join with us to remember, after all, that "We Are Penn State" and we owe it to the future of Penn State nation to carry on that legacy.

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