Sunday, August 10

PS4RS Update on the Nittany Nine - August 10, 2014

For nearly three years, we've tried to optimistically remind each other that truth and justice will prevail; this isn't a sprint, it's a marathon; there's power in numbers; some of the most important work really is happening behind the scenes; and, finally that WE BELIEVE in the nine alumni trustees who WE voted in through what is now widely regarded as an exemplary, robust and transparent process for trustee selection.

We've had payoffs over the years, but perhaps none bigger than the courageous move this week made by the "Nittany Nine" to call a special meeting of the Board to fully address the NCAA fines levied through the Consent Decree, based on the Freeh Report (formal request letter is attached). This meeting holds the promise of FINALLY bringing these significant issues in front of the ENTIRE Board of Trustees. We couldn’t be more proud of those who were voted in, and how they represent the views of so many in the Penn State community.

August 6, 2014

Mr. Keith E. Masser

Chairman of the Board of Trustees
The Pennsylvania State University
205 Old Main University Park, PA 16802-1571

Dear Mr. Masser:
As consistent with Penn State’s By-Laws we the undersigned hereby call for a Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees to be held August 22, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn.  We recognize the inconvenience of such short notice;  however the immediacy of the subject matter requires the Board act before September 1, 2014. To accommodate trustee schedules we will permit telephonic attendance and will consider holding the meeting any of the dates from August 18-22, 2014.

The purpose of the meeting is to address settlement discussions that have and will take place among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Pennsylvania State University. It is critical to address this issue immediately because our Board is generally uninformed about these important negotiations and is certainly divided in its views about the NCAA Consent Decree and related sanctions. The NCAA Consent Decree and the Freeh Report (which serves as the foundation for the NCAA Consent Decree) also divide the “official” university from its alumni.  The Board has not sanctioned, nor even discussed, an official negotiating posture for the University. Therefore, we ask that neither University nor Board personnel conduct any further conversations with the NCAA until our direction has been discussed and determined by the full Board and the entire Penn State Community knows what we are doing.

As you know, on July 23, 2012 certain trustees and President Erickson agreed to the NCAA’s Consent Decree, apparently without full Board approval and under duress of a threatened “death penalty.” Unsurprisingly, the soundness of this decision remains at issue. On April 9, 2014, the Commonwealth Appeals Court questioned the very validity of the Consent Decree. They also questioned the judgment of the Board of Trustees which had fiduciary responsibility for the financial and reputational well-being of the University. These issues, which speak directly to the guilt or innocence of the University and the proper functioning of its decision-making process, are more consequential than any sanction that has emanated from the Consent Decree. 

The Consent Decree document acknowledges its own overreach. But there are other serious issues that must be addressed. The NCAA’s very standing – and its failure to conduct its own objective investigation – are also at issue. It adopted the Freeh Report with no oversight whatever. The NCAA’s sanctions have damaged the University’s reputation, cost the University at least $125 million; its “piling on” to “The Freeh Report’s” assertions about our culture continue to cause pain to our students and alumni worldwide.

The NCAA and the Commonwealth have already begun “settlement” negotiations to resolve the validity of the Consent Decree as directed by the court.  To date, Penn State, as a party separate from the NCAA, has been absent from these very vital conversations.  The Commonwealth plaintiffs have instructed the University—in the form of the full board—to adopt a position.  So too has the Commonwealth Court; it was for this very reason the court directed that Penn State be added as a party to the suit. Yet to date most of the Board has been excluded from these conversations.  Only secret meetings that you and the legal subcommittee hold have addressed the subject. We must participate actively and independently. The  NCAA is at serious risk in this, as in other PSU-related litigation and other matters nationwide. It must find a way to resolve its issues soon.  Time is short.  We have been told the Board had no opportunity to dispute the Consent Decree in 2012.  Let us not make that mistake again.

Keith, the NCAA no longer holds a “death penalty” over our heads. We can negotiate from strength just as Joe Paterno recommended in his “Success with Honor” approach to life. Rarely does history provide a “do over,” but that is just the opportunity now in front of the Trustees.


Edward B. Brown, 
Barbara L. Doran,
Hon. Robert C. Jubelirer,   
Albert L. Lord,  
Anthony P. Lubrano, 
Ryan J. McCombie, 
William F. Oldsey, 
Alice W. Pope, PhD,
 Adam J. Taliaferro

1 comment:

  1. Wow. A small faction of the PSU BoT still operating in secret, still arrogantly and likely against PSU by-laws... wow.

    Are the Nittany Nine having any success in revealing these old-school tactics to the Penn State community at large??

    Congrats on this letter. And best wishes for a positive response by Maser et al.