Penn State Board Has a Job to Do! NOW


cropped-penn-state.jpg

Now is the time for the board of trustees …

To demonstrate leadership and defend our great school.

To practice openness and transparency in deeds as well as words.

To be a body of inclusion rather than one of exclusion.

To recognize that trust is earned in two directions.

To correct Mark Emmert for his many misstatements that have harmed our school.

To invite Louis Freeh to Penn State so that the community can query him regarding his conclusions.

To invite former U.S. Attorney General and Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler James Clemente to Penn State so that the community can query them regarding their assessment of the Freeh report.

To respond to former Jerry Sandusky prosecutor Frank Fina’s statement that he “found no evidence” that Joe Paterno covered up Sandusky’s crimes by publicly repudiating the conclusions of the Freeh report.

To put back the statue and wall in their rightful place outside of Beaver Stadium.

To work to ensure that we leave Penn State a better place than we found it.

To join our 600,000 alumni who never lost the “We” in “We are.”

If we are truly interested in real healing, then we should demonstrate the courage and leadership that our roles as trustees require in order to serve the best interests of our great university. And if the Penn State community did not distrust us, then …

To formally honor the 61 years of service that Joe Paterno gave to Penn State.

written by trustee Anthony Lubrano

editor note: NOW IS THE TIME.  WE WANT THE STATUE AND THE WALL BACK WHERE IT BELONGS!

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 

Joe Paterno, We Are Because You Were–Remembering


The statue wall outside Beaver Stadium used to say the following:

“Joseph Vincent Paterno: Educator, Coach, Humanitarian.” 

And that about sums it up.  People who believe Paterno was just a football coach are kidding themselves.  More than any coach in sports history, Paterno’s impact spread well beyond his greatness leading his team on the field.

He demanded his players have strong academic standing, exemplified by his team’s top graduation rates year in and year out. He cared deeply about how his players performed on the field, but understood that their success after college was the most important thing. He didn’t coach for the money, shown by his modest home and lifestyle and his constant donations to Penn State. And even in his final days, Paterno remained loyal to the university that employed him for 61 years.

“They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach,” a Paterno quote on the wall outside the statue read. –And Rodney Erickson and the Board of Trustees Removed it.

Oh JoePa, you certainly did. Before Paterno arrived at Penn State as an assistant in 1950, the school and its football program was barely known. In 2012, as Paterno has left this earth, the football team had national power status and a stadium with more than 108,000 seats. And with the help of the millions he donated to the school and the many lives he affected, the university has become a respected academic institution.

In today’s college and professional sports world, winning overrides everything. Class, academics and sportsmanship often seem to be thrown out the window. Most coaches appear to care about their paychecks and the championships they have won more than teaching young people to become better in their lives.

Paterno had a connection with the Penn State community that can’t be compared to any other coach in history. For more than half a century, Paterno was the face of Penn State. To players, students, alumni and fans, JoePa was a father or a grandfather figure. This close relationship was displayed by the strong emotional reaction on Penn State’s campus by students and fans on Sunday January 22, 2012 after news of his death.

There are and will always be great coaches. But none of them will ever be Joe Paterno

The Reason “We Are”….Penn State”


As SuperFan of the Maize Rage student section at the University of Michigan, I have the opportunity to travel to all of the Michigan football away games and experience what football Saturday means in different parts of the country. This feature will run after each away game this season, detailing the gameday experience for Michigan games outside of Ann Arbor. Previously: UConn.

When Michigan fans travel to different schools to watch the Wolverines play on the road, they regularly have to get used to a much smaller stadium and quieter atmosphere. In Week 4, the Connecticut Huskies broke a Rentschler Field record by packing 42,000 people into the stadium; about 70,000 less than that of a typical Ann Arbor game day.

This weekend was a different story. As the few Wolverine fans trickled into Beaver Stadium they realized that the structure was possibly even more impressive than our very own Big House.

When I first arrived in State College, one of the first things I learned was that this was the biggest game of the season for the Nittany Lions. On Friday night before the game the students were happy to explain their hatred for both Michigan and Ohio State, but it was clear that the night game against the Maize and Blue would be Penn State’s bowl game this year.

Beaver Stadium is an imposing structure, both inside and out (Derick Hutchinson, M&GB)

Not having been to Penn State since the Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky scandal, I wasn’t sure how touchy of a subject it was among the students. Surprisingly, it was basically the butt of all the jokes. Though our little group in maize never brought the scandal up, we did end up discussing it multiple times throughout the weekend. Penn State students want to prove that they have moved on from the nightmare and won’t let it define them.

Instead, they just want to beat Michigan.

While tailgating before the game on Saturday, Penn State fans made it very clear that Michigan was their main target. An enormous homecoming crowd of almost 108,000 couldn’t have included more than a few thousand Michigan fans. It was easy to pick them out because of the famous Penn State white out.

The white out stands for what separates the Penn State game environment from that of Michigan. During a maize out, Michigan Stadium has one maize section where the students stand and a mixed bag of maize and blue throughout the rest of the bowl. Fans don’t put much stock in participating in the game atmosphere but simply want to watch their team win. It’s tradition.

But in Happy Valley every single fan is ready to cheer like crazy for Penn State from the opening kickoff. The white out was breathtaking. Over 100,000 strong were decked out in all white and shaking white pompoms as Bill O’Brien led his team onto the field. This scene was unlike anything our little group of Michigan students had ever experienced, but we had faith that our undefeated Wolverines would quiet things down.

For much of the second half, we were exactly right.

Michigan came out of halftime with a bang, returning a fumble for a touchdown on Penn State’s first offensive play. A quarter later, the Wolverines were ahead by 10 points with six minutes to go and we were enjoying the eerie silence in the enormous stadium.

Though it has a smaller capacity than the Big House, Beaver Stadium is built entirely above ground and is much more intimidating both inside and outside. Second and third decks keep all of the sound in while reaching up much higher than the final rows in Ann Arbor. If you’re wondering how a structure like this can be safe, you aren’t alone.

Penn State’s famous chant is the Zombie Nation cheer, which gets the entire audience involved in jumping and screaming along. Because it was one of the things I was really looking forward to, I asked our host, a senior at Penn State, about Zombie Nation.

“There’s a new rule that we can only do it two times each game,” he told me. “We were doing structural damage to the stadium so they had to limit us.”

Derick (2nd from left) and his crew were impressed by the atmosphere and how welcoming the Penn State fans were (Derick Hutchinson, M&GB)

At the suggestion of damaging a concrete structure like Beaver Stadium I was astonished, but when Penn State came back and tied the game with under a minute remaining in regulation, Zombie Nation blared and the back wall of the stadium was visibly wavering back and forth with the Nittany Lion faithful.

It was the most incredible atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of, and I wasn’t even in an appreciative mood. Four overtimes later Michigan had missed easy kicks and taken costly penalties and Penn State was celebrating an unbelievable win.

Following such an emotional win I expected to be mercilessly harassed by the Penn State students all night, but was surprised when they continued a trend set before the game. While migrating toward the stadium for the game, our little group of Michigan fans was welcomed to Happy Valley countless times. Students, alumni and others went out of their way to walk past us and say good luck.

It was extremely strange. We weren’t sure how we felt about the hospitality because it didn’t feel right, but it was much better than being harassed in Columbus or East Lansing. After the game there were fans that laughed and jeered at us, but the number that told us good game probably outnumbered them.

Even though they always seem to beat Michigan in recent years, and they ended our undefeated season, it’s hard to hate Penn State fans because of how cool they were; both when they were sure they would lose and after they had won.

I hope that Michigan fans can learn from the atmosphere that exists within Beaver Stadium. The students lead the charge, but alumni and casual fans set it apart by participating much more than those around other Big Ten schools. Even the younger fans are fully invested in Penn State football, as we found out when a couple of three-year old girls started the “we are” “Penn State” cheer all by themselves from atop an RV after the game.

While I wouldn’t trade game day in Ann Arbor for anything, I do think that Michigan fans can learn from the commitment in Beaver Stadium. Michigan’s tradition and history set it apart, but there is room to make the Big House even better.

Winning on the road is a great feeling, but losing is definitely the worst. Thankfully, the Penn State faithful were bearable after the game, but I still had a bad taste in my mouth after Michigan blew the 10 point lead.

The first loss is one of the hardest each year, but Michigan won’t have to deal with an atmosphere like Penn State’s for the rest of the season.

Losing is never fun, but witnessing a Penn State night game was an incredible sports experience. Hopefully Team 134 can tighten things up and send us home with more road wins in 2013.

Sandusky Prosecutor–Joe Not Involved in Coverup


This time, CBS Sports is getting in the mix with a Penn State feature on “60 Minute Sports” on Showtime at 10 p.m. tonight. The episode focuses on Frank Fina and Joe McGettigan, the two prosecutors who helped put Sandusky behind bars.

CBS released a clip of the interview yesterday and once you get past the “college football’s darkest episode” rhetoric, there is actually some interesting material.

Notably, Fina was asked if he thought Joe Paterno participated in a coverup of Sandusky’s actions as he believes former administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz did.

“I do not,” Fina said straight up when asked if Paterno participated in a coverup.

“And I’m viewing this strictly on the evidence, not any kind of fealty to anybody. I did not find that evidence.”

Bob Costas Doubts Paterno Involved in Cover Up


Emmy Award-winning NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said Wednesday concerning the  ongoing investigation of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State sex scandal, “I don’t buy  the idea that [late head coach Joe Paterno] was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

“There’s a grand jury proceeding that just said there’s enough evidence to  take it to trial, which was no surprise to anybody,” Costas replied. “Spanier,  Curley, and Schultz, the administrators, who will go on trial.”

“But the main figure to the average person,” he continued, “the main figure  is still, other than Sandusky himself, Joe Paterno, who has since passed away.  And I really think that there is now some legitimate doubt.”

“I don’t know where the truth is,” Costas added, “but there’s some  legitimate doubt about the extent of Paterno’s involvement. The pat storyline  became, everybody, Paterno included, knew pretty much what Sandusky was up to.  And they all kind of conspired to cover it up to protect the image of the  football program at Penn State.”

“And you don’t think that’s true?” Leno asked.

“I  think that Paterno was negligent,” answered Costas. “I think he should have  recognized what was going on because the warning signals were there. But, having  read the Freeh report, and then having read some of what’s been put out to  refute it, I don’t buy the idea that he was actively involved in a  cover-up.”

 

 

What Did Spanier Know and When?


Penn State’s leadership kept the university’s public information director out of the loop about Jerry Sandusky between a media inquiry in 2010 until “all hell broke loose” in November 2011 with the release of the grand jury presentment, the employee testified Tuesday.

“Our office had no idea,” said Lisa Powers, the university’s top spokeswoman whose duty is to promote its positive image.

“We did not anticipate the presentment, we did not anticipate the fallout, and we were inundated with media from everywhere,” Powers said. “I didn’t answer my phone, and I couldn’t answer my email. There were just too many of them.”

Powers testified that she was one of several people who got an email in September 2010 from a Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter asking if anyone knew of any investigation into Sandusky. The email was sent by blind carbon copy, or bcc, to Spanier, Powers and another spokesman, Bill Mahon.

Spanier responded about an hour after receiving the email: “I haven’t heard this. Can you tell me more?” The reporter never responded, Powers said.

Powers testified she spoke with another employee who had found something about Sandusky touching boys that was posted on an online message board on a bodybuilder’s website. Powers said she and the employee noted the title of Sandusky’s autobiography, “Touched,” but when Powers went to find the message board, the comment had been removed.

Powers said she learned of another potential Sandusky-related issue when she was told that the reporter had camped outside the home of former Penn State police chief Thomas Harmon, who retired in 2005.

Powers said she was told by Al Horvath –— then the university’s senior vice president for finance and business — there was an investigation into Sandusky, but it had been closed.

The prosecution presented an email by Spanier to Horvath that Powers was only given enough information so she could field media inquiries without “exacerbating the situation.”

Powers testified she received another media inquiry in March 2011 about Sandusky, to which Powers responded the university didn’t know about any investigation and that Sandusky was a former Penn State employee who retired 10 years earlier.

Then, in late March 2011, when a grand jury investigation into Sandusky was revealed in a news report, Powers learned that senior leadership had gone to testify to the grand jury.

Caught off-guard, Powers sought information about the grand jury process from Cynthia Baldwin, who was then the university’s general counsel.

According to Powers’ testimony, Baldwin made the news report out to be a non-issue. Powers said Baldwin told her the grand jury investigation was a “fishing expedition” and had convened three times before and found nothing.

Powers said she was concerned that senior administrators had testified, but Baldwin never mentioned her role in accompanying Curley, Schultz or Spanier to the grand jury.

Seven months later, on Oct. 28, 2011, Powers was called into a meeting with Spanier, Baldwin, Mahon and the trustees chairman at the time, Steve Garban.

She testified she was told that a presentment was coming, and that Curley and Schultz may be indicted on perjury charges.

Hackenberg In Race for Quarterback


CDT staff reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — Before he’s officially taken a snap, freshman Christian Hackenberg is in the race to be the starting quarterback for the Penn State football team.

Hackenberg, the prized recruit from Fork Union, was listed along with junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson at the top of the team’s depth chart, which was released Thursday afternoon. The two were separated by the word “or.”

Nittany Lion coach Bill O’Brien said throughout the spring that Hackenberg would be in the mix to start heading into preseason camp in the fall. That became more apparent when Steven Bench, the team’s only experienced returning quarterback, asked for and was granted a transfer after spring practice which concluded with the Blue-White Game. Bench is now at South Florida.

Ferguson, a transfer from the College of Sequoias in California, arrived on campus in January.

Hackenberg is rated by Rivals.com as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2013.

Whoever wins the battle will have an impressive stable of running backs give the ball to. Zach Zwinak, who came off the bench, to become a 1,000-yard rusher, is listed on top of the running back chart. Bill Belton, the starter at the beginning of last season, and Akeel Lynch, who impressed in the spring game, followed.

The offensive line starters are pretty much as expected. Ty Howle is at center. John Urschel and Miles Dieffenbach are the guards, while Adam Gress and Donovan Smith are at tackle.

Jesse James has the edge at Y tight end, while Kyle Cater is on top at Y/F tight end. Record-setting Allen Robinson is at one wide receiver spot, while Brandon Moseby Felder is at the other. Pat Zerbe is listed as the starting fullback.

The most notable changes come in the defensive backfield.

Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, a starter at safety last season, is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart. He is behind Adrian Amos, a starter a cornerback last season, who has been moved to safety.

Malcolm Willis, also a starter last season at safety, hasn’t been guaranteed a starting slot, either. He has an “or” listed with his name at the top of the chart along with Ryan Keiser.

The Nittany Lions have two new starters listed at the corners. Sophomores Jordan Lucas, who had an outstanding spring, and Trevor Williams are on the top of the chart.

As expected, Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan are listed as starters at defensive end, along with Daquan Jones at tackle. Kyle Baublitz has the edge at the other tackle slot.

Middle linebacker Glenn Carson, who had 85 tackles last season, is the lone returning starter at linebacker. Mike Hull, who moved into the lineup after Michael Mauti was injured, is at one outside spot, while Nyeem Wartman is at the other.

The major special teams starters remain the same. Sam Ficken will do the placekicking, while Alex Butterworth is at punter.

Carson will snap on kicks, while Keiser will hold.

Belton and former State College standout Alex Kenney are listed as the top two kickoff returners. Jesse Della Valle and freshman Richy Anderson are the top two punt returners.

Trustees Respond to Criticism of Lawsuit


Recently, a fellow member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Keith Eckel, wrote an editorial in which he criticized a “well-funded and highly vocal constituency” that, in his view, has employed a “burn it all to the ground” approach to the business of the university.

While it is not entirely clear who Mr. Eckel is referring to in expressing his views, as the five current Trustees who recently joined a legal action against the NCAA and its President, Mark Emmert, we feel obliged to respond.

We as trustees support the governance changes and improvements that were recommended by Louis Freeh in his report, are being implemented at Penn State, and monitored by Senator George Mitchell.

 

Institutions must grow and adapt to changing times and challenging circumstances and we are proud to be part of that effort at Penn State.  We certainly do not subscribe to the “burn it the ground” approach of which Mr. Eckel speaks in his piece.

Our issue, and the reason we have joined others from the Penn State community in the recently filed legal action, is the complete failure of due process afforded Penn State by the NCAA.

Under its own constitution and bylaws, the Association owed Penn State certain fundamental rights and the adherence to rules and procedures designed to provide fairness to a member institution.  These rights were not only due to the University, but to intended beneficiaries of the membership agreement, including student-athletes, coaches, faculty and administrators.

In discharging our legal and fiduciary responsibilities as trustees, it is not incompatible that we may challenge and seek relief from the unprecedented and unlawful actions of the NCAA, and at the same time embrace the governance improvements that have arisen therefrom.

It comes down a distinction between the flawed and unsupported factual findings contained in the Freeh Report leading to the rushed imposition of crippling sanctions against Penn State — which we do not accept, and the Freeh Report’s recommendations for improved governance, leading to an enhanced environment for learning and academic pursuits at this great institution — which we enthusiastically accept and support.

Al Clemens

Peter A. Khoury

Anthony P. Lubrano

Ryan J. McCombie

Adam J. Taliaferro

Bob Costas Interview with Thornburg, Soller, MGinn


By Matt Morgan — mmorgan@centredaily.com

                                    Representatives of the family of the late Joe Paterno said the family will sue the NCAA over sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial.

Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers, Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn and former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh announced the lawsuit late Wednesday on the NBC Sports Network program “Costas Tonight.”

The suit, to be filed Thursday in Centre County court, will challenge the NCAA, President Mark Emmert and the former chairman of the executive committee, Edward Ray, concerning the consent decree that led to heavy penalties against the university last summer. An exclusive interview aired close to midnight Wednesday.

The suit seeks to overturn the sanctions, provide compensatory and punitive damages from the NCAA for improper conduct and breach of contract and reimbursement for legal costs, according to a news release from the family. The family will donate any net monetary gains to charity.

The six counts against the NCAA include breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation and commercial disparagement.

Sollers said on the show that the complete adoption of the Louis Freeh report and the binding nature of the consent decree needs to be challenged. The consent decree bound the university to sanctions including a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions, a four-year bowl ban and the loss of more than 100 wins for the football program.

“The reality is that consent decree was imposed through coercion and threats behind the scenes and there was no ability for anyone to get redress,” Sollers said. “There was no board approval, there was no transparency, and there was no consideration of this consent decree.”

Host Bob Costas also re-examined the Freeh report as it relates to Paterno.

The family challenged the Freeh report in February, with individual reports from Sollers, Thornburgh, former FBI profiler Jim Clemente and Fred Berlin, an expert on sexual disorders.

The suit will also include Penn State trustees Ryan McCombie, Anthony Lubrano, Alvin Clemens, Peter Khoury and Adam Taliaferro, faculty members Peter Bordi, Terry Engelder, Spencer Niles and John O’Donnell former players Anthony Adams, Gerald Cadogan, Shamar Finney, Justin Kurpeikis, Richard Gardner, Josh Gaines, Patrick Mauti, Anwar Phillips and Michael Robinson and former coaches William Kenney and Jay Paterno, according to the release.

Penn State as a whole will not take part, spokesman Dave LaTorre wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

“The university is not a party to any lawsuit against the NCAA that may be filed by the Paterno family,” he said.

LaTorre said Penn State remains committed to complying with the consent decree regarding the NCAA sanctions against the school and working with athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell to move the university forward.

McGinn said the suit will help to “correct the record.”

“When I speak of the damage, it’s not just to the Paterno family, the Paterno name; it is to Penn State, a great institution that has a great history and tradition in sports,” he says on the show. “It’s to the alums there, the students, the faculty, and the community. The NCAA wreaked enormous damage to this community, and this is just one way to get the record right.”

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Wick Sollers, managing partner of King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office and Paul Kelly, a partner in the Boston office of the Jackson Lewis firm.

The NCAA declined comment Wednesday, Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy said in a statement. He said the organization will continue to work with Penn State toward successful completion of the agreement.

Editorial Note:  NCAA and Mark Emmert were invited to show and declined to appear.  Bob Costas invited them again to participate in a discussion.  Bob Costas also appeared this morning on Joe in the Morning on MSNBC to discuss the interview.