Penn State BOT and Dave Joyner Reason O’Brien Left


After days of dancing back and forth, with everyone from Penn State’s fans to the trustees wondering if head football coach Bill O’Brien was going to stay or go, he finally ended the suspense: O’Brien announced he would be leaving State College after two seasons to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans.

At first glance, it’s an old story: An NFL offensive coordinator gets a chance to lead a legendary college program, then jumps back to the NFL when he’s offered the opportunity to become a head coach. But after conducting hundreds of interviews inside Penn State’s program to write my latest book Fourth and Long, and several articles, I can tell you it’s not that simple. Or, rather, it’s almost that simple — but it’s not what you think.

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see O’Brien’s decision — made at the eleventh hour, after much hand-wringing — was based as much on the appeal of the Texans’ offer as it was the lack of leadership presented by Penn State.

Probably no one felt this more acutely than the players on the 2012 team, Penn State’s first after the dismissal and death of Joe Paterno.

“Who was stepping up and taking it?” 2012 senior Michael Zordich asked me. “We were. They never stood up for us. Not the president, not the AD. They were silent. Silent. Thanks. Who was standing up for us? O’Brien — and that’s it.”

Trustee Anthony Lubrano, who was elected to the board as an alumnus in the summer of 2012, understands Zordich’s frustration. “From 1995 to 2011, until they accepted Graham Spanier’s resignation and fired Joe Paterno, those two were clearly the face of Penn State,” he told me. “Since their respective departures, no one has replaced them, and we’ve struggled to overcome that. New logos and slogans haven’t helped, either.”

‘It Lies With The Board’

Penn State’s problems start with its outdated 30-member Board of Trustees. While other universities elect or appoint their trustees, Penn State uses a bizarre hybrid to fill its Board. This includes the state secretaries of education, agriculture, conservation and natural resources; six appointees by the governor, nine elected by alumni, and six elected by Pennsylvania agricultural societies. It harkens back to the school’s founding as a land-grant college. Six additional trustees are selected by a committee representing business and industry.

Although the six business appointees, led by BNY Mellon president Karen Peetz, comprise only one-fifth of the board, they tend to have the most influence, and the nine elected alumni much less.

Consider three key decisions that were driven by just a handful of business appointees:

– On July 12, 2012, within hours of receiving the damning Freeh Report — which accused Penn State’s leaders of a “total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims” – a few business appointees officially accepted the report on behalf of Penn State. That decision, in turn, prompted the NCAA to accept the report in lieu of its own investigation, resulting in severe sanctions.

– Failing badly to select a permanent president in November 2013 (more on that later).

– Creating the $4.25 million per year salary for new football coach James Franklin, in early 2014.

The nine elected alumni trustees, in contrast, could count only one representative on one of those committees.

After NCAA President Mark Emmert delivered his famous quote about the “culture problem” with Penn State’s football program, in July of 2012, Lubrano, who had just been elected to the board as an alumnus, responded, “We do have a ‘culture’ problem. But it lies in the board of trustees.”

The Sandusky scandal has taken its toll on Penn State, as you’d expect. But right when the football team, at least, seemed poised to emerge from the crisis, the issues with Penn State’s leadership have persisted, manifest in their struggles to select a permanent president and to provide crucial support for a football program still in flux.

Hiring One Of Their Own

This brings us to the position of Athletic Director. After longtime AD Tim Curley stepped down in 2011, the process of replacing him has been similarly bumpy and unorthodox. The board quickly named one of its own, David Joyner, as the “Acting Director of Athletics.”

Joyner had been an all-American defensive lineman at Penn State in 1971, and went on to become an orthopedic surgeon. He was elected to PennState’s Board of Trustees in 2003, 2006, and 2009, taking one of the nine seats reserved for alums, voted on by alums.

Nonetheless, Joyner was an odd choice for athletic director. That Joyner had no experience working in an athletic department was a weakness Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon had also overlooked in their searches, in favor of business experience. But what business experience Joyner had was not a ringing endorsement for his candidacy. In 2002, he founded a company which operated a chain of gyms called C-5 Fitness. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy.

“Some companies do go bankrupt, no matter what you do,” Joyner said to PennLive.com. “I’m certainly not a venture capitalist, but I’m told that successful venture capitalists fail 85 percent of the time.”

Messages to the Penn State Athletic Communications office to speak with Dr. Joyner (left in picture, with O’Brien and interim president Rod Erickson) for this story were not returned.

After Joyner took the job, trustee Ira Lubert, a real estate millionaire, arranged for the Joyners to stay in one of his homes in State College, and another in Hershey. Two months later, Penn State named Joyner the permanent athletic director.

The board’s decision to hire a fellow trustee attracted the attention of the Pennsylvania auditor general, who released a report in November 2012, stating it created “reasonable public perceptions of insider influence and conflicting interests.”

Penn State dismissed the AG’s concerns, but the players did not. After the 2011 team finished 9-3, without a permanent president, athletic director or head coach, the team captains called a players-only meeting to decide whether to accept the bid to the lowly TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. After a civil discussion, they decided if they represented Penn State’s values, they had to go.

All seemed settled — until Dr. Joyner addressed the team after their vote. According to over a dozen players present, he accused them of being “a bunch of children” for declining the bowl invitation, which prompted Gerald Hodges to stand up and demand Dr. Joyner show more respect. The two started walking toward each other, creating a commotion loud enough for assistant coach Larry Johnson Sr., waiting outside, to come into the room, hold Hodges, and literally escort him out.

Finally, when captain Devon Still told Joyner, “We already decided. We’re gonna go,” Joyner calmed down, and told the team they had their full support, but the players never bought it. After Joyner hired O’Brien, the players asked O’Brien to keep Joyner away from the team — essentially banning him from their sideline, their locker room and their team meetings — and Joyner obliged, not appearing before the team again until the 2012 senior banquet.

The Outsider

When Dr. Joyner courted Bill O’Brien after the 2011 season, he asked him to FedEx his resume and cover letter, then lost the envelope in the department mailroom for eight days until O’Brien called to make sure they’d received it. O’Brien was smart enough to ask about the possibility of the NCAA punishing the football program, but naïve enough to believe Joyner when he assured O’Brien the NCAA would steer clear.

On July 23, 2012, the NCAA leveled historically severe sanctions against the school for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, leaving Penn State’s football program to face a slow version of the death penalty. But O’Brien and a special class of seniors not only kept the team alive, they thrived, knocking off ranked teams en route to an 8-4 record.

Two days after Penn State finished the triumphant 2012 season by beating eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, I sat with Bill and Colleen O’Brien at their breakfast table. “We like it here,” Bill said. “She likes it here, and the kids do, too. We love this team, the families. I love the values here, and I believe in them.”

But as he was talking, his cell phone buzzed so often it almost fell off the edge of the table.

It wasn’t friends or well-wishers calling, but athletic directors from Boston College, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers. They all wanted to know one thing: What would it take to get O’Brien to jump?

The Monday after the football season ends, college and pro alike, is traditionally the day when the athletic director, the general manager, or the owner calls in the head coach to assess the season just past and to plan for the seasons ahead. But not at Penn State. At least, not in 2012.

While O’Brien’s phone was blowing up, Dave Joyner was on a hunting trip. It was the opening day of Pennsylvania’s deer season. When I asked O’Brien about this, he shrugged it off, but then-senior linebacker Mike Mauti did not.

“That enrages me,” Mauti told me, in December 2012. “Let’s lay it out there: He’s the reason we did all this. They hire anyone else, this doesn’t happen — and who knows where the program is? He’s it. If O-B leaves … it’s because they didn’t do their jobs and do what’s right.”

Nonetheless, O’Brien declined the overtures from other athletic directors and the NFL, and stayed put in State College. In the spring of 2013, Penn State bumped O’Brien’s pay to $3.2 million. To keep up with the never-ending arms race that is modern college football, O’Brien also received assurances from Joyner that he would increase the budget for assistant coaches’ salaries, recruiting and facilities face-lifts — the very things rivals Michigan and Ohio State already have.

O’Brien’s players followed up their inspirational 2012 season with an equally surprising 7-5 record this year. After the NCAA greatly reduced Penn State’s sanctions, and recruiting picked up accordingly, the program’s future suddenly looked much brighter.

New Year, Same Problems

But the school’s leadership, from the Board of Trustees to the athletic director, continued to stumble. After the Board set a meeting for November 1, 2013, to name SUNY Upstate Medical University president David Smith to replace interim president Rod Erickson, it canceled the meeting when Smith told one of the committee members he had received roughly $35,000 of unapproved income from a company that did business with the SUNY system. However, in a November 1 letter, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher informed Smith they had discovered the total was actually $349,295. Smith resigned, but there is a flap about his continuing to draw a paycheck from New York state.

After Penn State’s 2013 season, according to insiders familiar with the situation, Joyner failed to follow through on his promises to boost O’Brien’s budget for assistant coaches’ salaries, recruiting and facilities. At the 2013 senior banquet, one witness said, the tension between the two men was “palpable. You couldn’t ignore it.” After the event, Dr. Joyner waited more than a week to respond to O’Brien’s requests to follow up on his promises. (When I asked O’Brien about these accounts, he did not deny their accuracy.)

Given this, when the NFL’s siren song resumed, O’Brien was ready to listen. The Houston Texans offered him the most appealing package: A great contract, a loaded roster, and strong, supportive leadership.

O’Brien based his decision partly on his long-held desire to become a head coach in the NFL, and the Texans’ attractive offer. But it wasn’t simply about money. It wasn’t State College, the Penn State fans or the players, either.

When I reached him last week, he said, “I want to be clear: I love the Penn State fans and always will. They were incredibly supportive, and the players were great. I love those guys. I just felt that this was the best move for me and my family.”

Joyner responded to O’Brien’s departure faster than he’d responded to O’Brien’s phone calls. He lured former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin to State College for $4.25 million a year — a third more than O’Brien received his second season. Joyner was also willing to overlook the fact that four of Franklin’s players were charged in June for raping an unconscious 21-year old woman in a dormitory, and a fifth player who pled guilty to covering it up.

More By
John U. Bacon.

It is hard not to conclude the Texans wanted O’Brien more than Joyner did, and that Joyner was more eager to hire Franklin than keep O’Brien.

Reached this week, Mauti said of O’Brien’s departure, “It doesn’t shock me one bit, unfortunately. It didn’t take a genius to see it coming. You always try to leave your program better than you found it. That’s what O-B did. He gave us all he had, and that’s why I’ll always respect him. I wish him nothing but the best.”

O’Brien’s career as an NFL head coach has just started. At Penn State, however, instead of basking in the incredible good fortune of finding the right guy during a desperate time, the same school that needed only two head coaches for 62 seasons is now welcoming its second coach in two years.

The years ahead will tell us who made the best decisions. But it’s a safe bet that Penn State University will not return to its former heights until it finally addresses its fundamental problem: the lack of strong leadership.

– John U. Bacon 

Board of Trustee Election Starts Today!!!! Vote!!


Voting begins today in the contentious election for three alumni seats on Penn State’s Board of Trustees. The trustees race once generated little interest in the general public, let alone the 560,000 Penn State alumni across the country. But that changed last year following scrutiny on the actions of university leaders in the aftermath of retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011 on child sex abuse charges. Any of the university’s 560,000 alumni can vote, though they must first contact the Board of Trustees office. Voters can cast ballots online or through the mail. Voting ends May 2, with results to be announced the following day at the trustees meeting

If you did not get your ballot, be sure to contact the alumni office!!!!!

I recommend you Vote for Scott Kimler!!!!!!!

Bob Costas to Host Show Reexamining Freeh Report


Bob Costas is taking another look at the Freeh Report.

Nittany Nation blogger Frank Bodani is reporting that, to give the report and its assertions a better evaluation, Costas is going to host a TV program on NBC, “a further examination of this issue in a month or two.”

Said Costas, “I said, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear, Paterno was, in some sense, complicit’” to Sandusky’s abuse of young boys.

“I didn’t say he was part of a cover-up. I wish I would have said, ‘As the Freeh Report asserts,’ rather than, ‘As the Freeh Report makes clear.’”

Costas first reversed direction on the Freeh report a few weeks ago in an interview with radio host Kevin Slaten of KQQZ in St. Louis, but now is the first evidence we’re seeing of a potential TV program to address the issue. When he first commented on the report last July, Costas had only read summaries of the document, and not the entire 267-page report itself. Previously, he had advocated for the so-called “death penalty” for Penn State football for at least a year. He now thinks that the NCAA sanctions in place are undeservedly steep.

In a way similar to the Paterno report’s questioning of Freeh’s investigation, Costas will take aim at Freeh’s conclusions that, according to him, still raise questions of their validity. Costas acknowledged that the report by Thornburgh, Clemente, and Berlin raised legitimate questions about holes in the Freeh Report.

Though Costas says that, nationally, the public may not care enough to reverse its opinion on the issue, having moved on and forgotten, he adds, “I feel I have some responsibility to follow the story.” No other details about the program have yet been released such as an air date, besides that it will air on NBC “in a month or two.”

Lettermen to Blast Trustees on Friday–live stream


By Mike Dawsonmdawson@centredaily.com

Before the fireworks Friday, when former Penn State football lettermen have promised to lay into the board of trustees, a handful of board members will convene Thursday to pave the way for ground-breaking changes to how the 158-year-old university is governed. The board’s committee on governance and long-range planning is expected to review and recommend reforms for a vote of the full board on Friday in Hershey. Exactly what those reforms are, though, will not be known until the meeting, because its agenda is confidential, and a university spokesman could not provide firmer details about which reforms will be up for consideration.

The committee meeting is at 1 p.m. This will be streamed live on WPSU.com

Regardless of the uncertainty, the result will be unprecedented because of the long tradition of university and board governance, which became a lightning rod for criticism after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Politicians, elected officials and alumni have been calling for reform and changes, and the board of trustees continues to bear the brunt of the anger from seething fans and alumni over its handling of coach Joe Paterno’s ouster and the NCAA sanctions. Some groups want to purge the board of those who voted to remove Paterno as coach, while others want the size of the board reduced, a different composition or certain members stripped of their voting ability.

The best hints about what reforms to expect Thursday  are from the  committee’s last discussion on the topic in January, when the members reviewed the long list of reforms suggested by former Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Among the reforms that were discussed: whether the Penn State president or the state’s governor should have voting powers, whether the president will be the board’s secretary or whether retired university employees have to wait a few years before they can run for a board seat.

The committee is chaired by James Broadhurst and includes the former chairwoman Karen Peetz and  Joel Myers, who fired off an email a few weeks ago criticizing the NCAA and the Freeh report.

Peetz and Myers were supportive of removing the president’s voting powers, and the committee sounded in favor of stripping the governor’s voting powers, too. Broadhurst said he first wanted to discuss the latter one with Gov. Tom Corbett.

A reduction in the president’s powers was one of Wagner’s core recommendations. The former auditor general also recommended reducing the size of the board from its size of 32 members

Lettermen Plan to “ROAST” the Board of Trustees


Some 30 Penn State lettermen are planning to roast the university’s board of trustees at their meeting Friday afternoon in Hershey.

The lettermen have registered to speak during the public comment period during the meeting, and they plan to hold a press conference after the meeting.

“We want to look the trustees in the eyes and tell them that their actions over the last 16 months have brought great harm upon Penn State, our beloved program and the innocent players and coaches who now occupy our locker room,” Brian Masella, a tight end and punter from 1971 to 1975, said in a statement.

The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in Room 302 of the University Fitness and Conference Center at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center.

The players hope to secure all 10 slots during the public comment session in the hope of persuading the trustees to reconsider the conclusions of the Freeh report and the unprecedented NCAA sanctions.

The board just began offering a public comment period this academic year, and university spokesman David La Torre said the “(b)oard looks forward to hearing from all parties who will speak.”

“Now that Sue Paterno has come forward with the exceptional and thorough work of Gov. Dick Thornburgh, FBI expert Jim Clemente and attorney Wick Sollers, we stand united with her and her family in decrying the absurd conclusions of Louis Freeh,” the players said in a news release. “He didn’t know Joe.

“We knew Joe.”

The players’ statement said the trustees should have had the courage to speak to Paterno in November 2011 before forcing him out as the coach.

Trustee and former Nittany Lion lettermen Paul Suhey disputed that Paterno was fired and said the coach was “retired three weeks early.”

Suhey said the board regrets that it was carried out by a phone call.

“People are still so hurt by that, and you know, damn it, we screwed it up,” Suhey said.

The terms are up this year for Suhey and fellow alumni trustee Stephanie Deviney, who are facing a hostile environment for re-election.

Suhey and Deviney Lie About The Firing of Joe Paterno!!


The trustees said the issue over how Paterno’s coaching career abruptly ended is one of the public misconceptions out there dogging them. Another, they said, is a belief that the trustees know every single detail about what’s going on at Penn State. Or, on the flipside, some think they are too far removed to know anything about what’s going on at ground zero.“Sometimes people think we’re all the way up and that we’re secluded and we don’t want to talk to people,” Deviney said. “I know at least from my perspective that’s not true. I don’t think we’d be here today if we felt that way.”Another criticism aimed at the trustees is that they did not stand up to the NCAA concerning the harsh sanctions and their impact on Penn State.“I think people didn’t think we were fighting for the university,” Suhey said. “But we were fighting for the university, honestly. Deep down, we were trying to do everything we could.”Another misconception, Suhey and Silvis said, is that folks think board members are ducking questions from the media.“I think people think that we’re hiding things or we have special information. We don’t,” Suhey said. “Everything we know is pretty much there now, too.”And Suhey said they’ve been accused of not reading the Freeh report even though they have

There is no question that they FIRED Joe Paterno, not “retire him 3 weeks early“–how stupid does Suhey think we are. There is a copy of the letter that was written by Cynthia Baldwin on the internet that clearly “fires” Joe and requests his return of all University items to the University immediately. And you don’t tear down the statue of someone who has “retired”. You take down a statue of someone who was fired in “disgrace”–and Joe never disgraced himself or the University he loved so much. The most baffling thing is that they expect us to believe their line of “crap”–This article infuriates me even more and I will make every effort to continue to replace every member of the Board of Trustees that was there in November 2011.
If the comment that Silvis made is true, that Erickson took it upon himself to agree with the NCAA without the consent of the Board of Trustees, he needs to be fired immediately. Also, due to the conflict of interest and the known effort of John Surma and his brother Vic Surma to destroy Joe Paterno (Vic Surma’s own words), John Surma needs to be fired immediately as well

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/03/10/3532643/penn-state-trustees-were-trying.html##storylink=cpy

Shame on Paul Suhey and Stephanie Deviney


Penn State trustee Paul Suhey admits relieving Joe Paterno of his head coaching duties in November 2011 over a late-night phone call was not the right tact. Stephanie Deviney, another trustee, is certain the whole board feels that way.“We apologize, we screwed it up as far as how we delivered the message,” Suhey said Friday in an interview. “Our decision, we’re not going to go back on. But we messed that up big time.“People are still so hurt by that, and you know, damn it, we screwed it up.”The Paterno decision will go down in the annals as the trigger of when Penn State alumni and diehard fans turned against the board, and the anger has not relented. They email the trustees, write letters — even call them out in advertisements in this newspaper. But, four trustees, in an interview with the Centre Daily Timeseditorial board, said they are committed to turning the corner, opening up and building on the progress the university has already seen in responding in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal. The trustees — Suhey, Deviney, board Chairman Keith Masser and Paul Silvis — said they hope the university community will meet them in the middle as part of moving forward.

Editor note:  It took them a year and a half to say this?? Shame, shame, shame on them.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/03/10/3532643/penn-state-trustees-were-trying.html#storylink=cpy

for more information on John Surma‘s role in destroying Joe Paterno, go to:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-931816

Be Involved! Participate in Electing Three More Trustees!


PSU Board of Trustees

I would appreciate your support! 

       june 20 2010 226  
A Note from Myke

Dear Fellow PSU Alumni,

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to be a part of this year’s board of trustee elections.   Many challenges lie ahead in these economic times, including slashes in funding from the state which results in higher tuition costs for the next generation.  Navigating a path through what is necessary and in the best interests of the state, it’s citizens, and the university is of utmost importance.  Economic concerns as well as serving as a moral standard bearer and educational example and leader for the local, state, and national communities all must be top priorities.  Being Penn State Proud is more than a slogan–it is a tradition and responsibility we all uphold.  When we say “We Are Penn State”–we speak as acommunity who stands as one voice.
The Alumni Office at Penn State has sent you a link to place a name in nomination for election to the board.   If you are not a member of the Alumni Association or a contributor to the Penn State Fund, you must request a ballot by sending your full name, year of graduation, major, address and current email, so that the alumni office can verify your eligibility to vote.  You can send that information to bot@psu.edu and they will send you an email letting you know that you are verified as bona fide PSU graduate.  Please share this information with other PSU graduates you know.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at PennStateMyke@aol.com.
Thanks you in advance for being involved.
In support of the Blue and White,
Myke Atwater Triebold PSU, class of ’72 (B.S., Health & P.E) & ’82 (A.T.,C, Sports Medicine)

I am asking for your help in placing my name in nomination for the 2013 election!

Erickson Awarded 85,000 Salary Increase


The Board of Trustees approved a pay increase for Penn State President Rodney Erickson as part of a protocol that includes an evaluation one year after Erickson assumed his role as president.

The increase will raise Erickson’s salary from $515,000 to $600,000, according to a press release issued via Penn State Live.

Erickson’s new salary will now put him in the 50th percentile of base salaries for presidents from institutions similar to Penn State. The increase is performance-based because Erickson’s contract is concerned with salary and a benefits package only.

The salary increase comes after the board conducted an annual performance review that focused on factors such as leadership, planning and resource development, and management of financial resources. The discussion to increase the president’s salary has been under consideration since the summer, said Trustee Anthony Lubrano.

The board recently finalized the discussion to give Erickson an $85,000 raise.

“The entire board had a general discussion in November,” Lubrano said.

Erickson, although a voting member of the Board of Trustees, was not present at the discussion in November, Lubrano said.

Lubrano said that there was no formal vote taken on the salary increase. He said that he was made aware of the increase today.

Although there was no formal vote, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz issued a statement in support of Erickson and the increased salary.

“It is imperative that we have a strong, effective leader to ensure our future excellence. Rod Erickson is that leader,” Peetz said in a press release.

Penn State trustees led by Ryan McCombie file appeal


Story by Dan Van Natta, ESPN

A Penn State board of trustee member filed an appeal Monday afternoon with the NCAA over sanctions levied against the university after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Three other trustees joined the appeal, which states that the consent decree university president Rodney Erickson signed with the NCAA agreeing to the sanctions is “null and void” because Erickson “lacked the legal authority” to enter into such an agreement without the board’s approval.

Trustees and a person with first-hand knowledge of the discussions said the move is a precursor to a federal lawsuit asking a  judge to invalidate the sanctions, because trustees expect the NCAA to reject the appeal.

ESPN The Magazine: On death’s door

ESPN The Magazine’s Don Van Natta brings you inside the secret negotiations that brought Penn State football to the brink of extinction. Story

PDF: PSU trustees’ letter of appeal

The appeal, sent to the NCAA from attorneys hired by Ryan J. McCombie, a retired Navy SEAL who joined the 32-member board in June, also challenges the NCAA on the following fronts:

• The NCAA did not give Penn State trustees and the university due process when it did not follow its usual investigation and enforcement procedures.

• The consent decree is fundamentally unfair because it relies on the Freeh report, which “contains findings and conclusions not that are contrary to the evidence presented …”

• The sanctions are “excessive and unreasonable” because they inflict “permanent damage to an entire generation of student-athletes and coaches who were innocent of any wrongdoing during their time on campus …”

Erickson signed the consent decree late last month with the NCAA after consulting with board chairwoman Karen Peetz and university counsel, but he did not bring the decree to the full board for review or a vote.

The package of sanctions included a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, scholarship losses and the vacating of wins from 1998 through 2011.

McCombie hired Boston attorneys Paul Kelly and Gregg Clifton of Jackson Lewis to file the appeal and wrote a letter to trustees Monday afternoon asking them to join him in his effort. Three trustees nearly immediately joined him. Kelly declined to comment, and McCombie did not return a message seeking comment.

McCombie, one of three new trustees elected by alumni to the board, was one of the most outspoken trustees at a July 25 board session about Erickson not consulting a majority of trustees before signing the consent decree, trustees said.

After that three-hour session in State College, the board issued a statement saying it was standing by Erickson’s decision to sign the consent decree. ESPN The Magazine reported last week the university was facing a four-year death penalty if Erickson had not signed the decree, and that the NCAA had warned Penn State that if there were a leak about proposed sanctions to the media, the discussions would end and the death penalty would be all but certain.

In his letter to trustees Monday, McCombie wrote: “It is my belief that this matter did require board approval and that we should engage in a full, and complete, review. In the end, we all benefit from having this matter handled correctly and with full regard for due process — only then can we be truly confident in the result and the actions we take as a board.

“Furthermore, only after we have given all involved the opportunity to be heard can we move forward together as one university.”

Penn State spokesman David La Torre declined comment. NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the Penn State sanctions are not subject to appeal.

Last week, attorneys for the family of former coach Joe Paterno requested the NCAA hold an “open hearing” before its Infractions Appeals Committee of the package of sanctions accepted by Penn State. The NCAA quickly rejected their request.

“The Penn State sanctions are not subject to appeal,” Williams said last week.

McCombie closed his letter by writing: “I know my actions will be poorly received by some on this board and in the community at large. To that end it would be easier to remain silent and allow these unfair actions to remain unchallenged. I cannot do this.”

Much of the McCombie appeal takes aim at the Freeh report, an investigation commissioned by the board of trustees last November after the Sandusky sex-abuse charges became known. The board hired former FBI director Louis B. Freeh for $6.5 million to investigate the university’s role in the sex abuse scandal.

Freeh’s report contains damning allegations against university employees and trustees, concluding that the board did not perform its oversight duties. The NCAA relied on the Freeh report to determine what sanctions should be handed down to Penn State