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.

Mark Emmert Declares “Eternal Winter in Happy Valley”


Big 12 Meetings Emmert Football

This is funny, but you must read the WHOLE Thing!!  Onward State‘s April Fool’s Joke!!  (it made many of us very angry today when we misunderstood a shortened version).

Earlier today, NCAA President Mark Emmert made an addition to the sanctions levied against Penn State this past July. In an uncharacteristic abuse of power, Emmert bypassed his publicist and decided to write the press release himself. Read the full document obtained by Onward State below:

Mark Emmert National Collegiate Athletic Association Indianapolis, IN April 1, 2013

My Fellow Americans,

I have personally crafted this press release to discuss the July 23, 2012 sanctions against The Pennsylvania State University. Up to this point, as far as we can tell, every penalty we implemented has been upheld by Penn State. (Note: When I use ‘we’, this pronoun represents both myself and the NCAA as a whole. Definitely not just me.)

However, we feel as though Penn State still has work to do. After closely watching the University’s leaders over the past eight months, it is clear the sanctions (including a $60 million fine, a four-year football postseason ban, vacating all wins dating back to 1998, and scholarship reductions) are collectively not enough.

Following a careful examination of the facts (while avoiding all biased and largely-opinionated media sources), we have determined the next step necessary to the successful re-shaping of Penn State’s culture.

State College, Pa. will no longer reap the benefits of a four-season ecological cycle. Summer, autumn, and spring are hereby eliminated, thus creating an eternal winter in Happy Valley. Previously unbeknownst to State College residents, this measure has already been in place since October.

The Penn State Board of Trustees and President Rodney Erickson have complied 100% with our requests, and I am happy to report that in March 2013, Happy Valley saw snow, rain, sleet, and hail, with an average temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite our climate and atmospheric alterations, we have a problem. There has been little to no change in Penn State’s culture. The community didn’t crumble. Students are still having fun. PSU athletes continue to rank towards the top in terms of collegiate academia. If these problematic trends continue, other actions – such as discontinuing THON, which definitely shows exactly what’s wrong with Penn State – will be taken.

Many people will question why we altered State College’s climate. Many will wonder how we achieved this. Some might even ask what winter has to do with Penn State’s imminent culture problem.

To those people, I say this: Louisiana State University was lucky enough to have me as their Chancellor, and I can promise you that football has nothing do with LSU’s culture and success as an academic institution. It was all me. That school was terrible before I arrived. And besides, I’m President of the NCAA. I don’t have to answer to you. I can do whatever I want without solid reason. I can even overstep my legal boundaries and contradict myself if I want to, although of course, I would never do either of these things.

Rest assured, the NCAA will continue to assess The Pennsylvania State University’s horrible problems. Together with Penn State’s Board of Trustees, we will weigh each decision heavily and avoid making any rash judgments, just as both parties have done throughout this entire ordeal.

Thank you, Mark Emmert

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Write a review on Amazon.com and let them know what you think about someone using Penn State to sell their disgusting smut!!

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

Pennsylvania Senator Comments on NCAA Response


HARRISBURG – Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) has issued the following statement regarding the NCAA’s challenge of Pennsylvania law.

“The recent NCAA litigation challenging Act 1 will delay the Penn State fine money from positively impacting programs and services that assist child abuse victims in Pennsylvania. In arguing that Pennsylvania has no role in the policy decisions of a state-related institution, the NCAA has gone well beyond its bylaws and believes it can operate as an unchecked governing body,” said Corman.

“Act 1 was carefully crafted to not impair the consent decree between Penn State University and the NCAA, and the law is constitutional.

“The NCAA has clearly misrepresented Penn State University as a private institution, as well as the parameters set forth in the consent decree.

NCAA President Mark Emmert’s statement that Act 1 is nothing more than an attempt to benefit the ‘home team’ is not only inaccurate, but also exemplifies the organization’s delusional understanding of the law. Penn State University receives no gain from Act 1 — the only people who will benefit are Pennsylvania’s sexual abuse victims.  As the money is being derived from a Commonwealth-supported institution of higher education and being generated by state residents, the fine money should be distributed in Pennsylvania.

“In light of the court challenge and Mark Emmert’s statements, state-related and public universities, which are members of the NCAA, should call for a change in the NCAA leadership and operational standards. The NCAA federal lawsuit is an unfortunate power grab by the NCAA, who appears to be more concerned with its national reputation than actually using the $60 million for those who need it the most.”

Emmert Needs to Resign or Be Fired!!


The NCAA has become a circus, and President Mark Emmert is the clown wearing a big red nose.  An agency designed to regulate and enforce the rules of college sports is now being pointed to and laughed at by the schools under its watch.  What was supposed to be an investigation of University of Miami and former booster Nevin Shapiro involving cash and trips to strip clubs he gave to Hurricane players for almost a decade turned into the NCAA instead reviewing its own enforcement staff.  Shortly after the NCAA launched its detective work into the Shapiro case, it was revealed in January the NCAA paid Shapiro’s lawyer $19,000 for additional information obtained via her subpoena power in the case.

Now the NCAA can’t use any of the information acquired, which is 20 percent of the total evidence it has on Miami.

Emmert then fired his vice president of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, holding her accountable for the failed plan to collect more information on Shapiro around NCAA bylaws.  The NCAA’s wrongdoing in the Shapiro case is just the tip of the iceberg. Ever since Emmert took over in November 2010, the NCAA has been a colossal mess.

It passed legislation in October making head coaches on college campuses liable for what their assistants do. Apparently, Emmert didn’t get the memo.  North Carolina and Penn State were punished because of former head coaches Butch Davis and Joe Paterno’s ignorance to what was happening around themYet, when the tables turn on the NCAA and it’s brought under scrutiny, Emmert uses unawareness as his defense“I knew nothing,” has been Emmert’s response to the numerous bonehead tactics employed by his own enforcement investigators.

Coaches are held accountable for not maintaining an atmosphere of compliance. So why isn’t Emmert?  There’s no standard set in place when it comes to dealing with NCAA infractions. Take the cases of UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad and University of Texas sophomore Myck Kabongo.  Kabongo was suspended for the first 23 games of the 2012-13 season for accepting airfare to Cleveland, Ohio from former Longhorns teammate Tristan Thompson in October 2012. The grand total of cost for his trip? A whopping $476.  The Longhorns’ best player finally played in his first game on Feb. 13 against Iowa State. By then, Texas’ record was 10-13, which most likely leaves it out of any kind of postseason tournament.

At UCLA, Muhammad was investigated for receiving approximately $1,600 in benefits on visits to North Carolina and Duke paid for by financial adviser Benjamin Lincoln. His family said Lincoln was a family friend and he asked the NCAA for approval before paying for the visits.  So what was Muhammad’s penalty from the NCAA?  Because he had to sit out of UCLA’s first three games of the season, the NCAA reinstated Muhammad on Nov. 11 with no further penalties. The Bruins are currently 19-7 and should find themselves in the Big Dance come March thanks much in part to Muhammad’s 18.5 points per game.

Sounds fair, right?

It turns out the NCAA was trying to save face again with its inquiry into Muhammad’s situation. In December 2012, the NCAA fired the lead investigator of the Muhammad case, Abigail Grantstein, after her boyfriend was overheard on a plane talking loudly about the case.  So was Muhammad actually cleared of wrongdoing, or did Emmert and his goons just want to cover up one of its lead investigators’ boyfriends who told an entire airplane about an ongoing NCAA case?

A review of the external NCAA enforcement had many casualties like Roe Lach, and of course, Emmert escaped unscathed.  Yet another example of how Emmert holds universities to double standards but doesn’t feel the need to impose on himself.

Say one thing, do another, has become Emmert’s bread and butter, which is bad news for the NCAA and its credibility going forward if he doesn’t resign.

Congressmen want Scholarships Reinstituted


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Two Pennsylvania congressmen want the NCAA to restore football scholarships taken away from Penn State, saying in a letter Monday those sanctions unfairly punish innocent student-athletes for the child sex abuse scandal involving retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

In the letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent and Glenn Thompson wrote that taking away up to 40 scholarships harmed players who had nothing to do with the scandal that engulfed the university in 2011.

”I want to make it clear to the NCAA who they are really hurting with this scholarship reduction. It’s not Jerry Sandusky and it’s not the university,” Dent said in a statement. ”They are hurting young people who are completely innocent of anything relating to the Sandusky situation and who through no fault of their own are being denied a chance to get a great education.”

A spokeswoman for college sports’ governing body said the NCAA would respond directly to Dent instead of through the media. A Penn State spokesman declined comment.

The NCAA sanctions limit Penn State’s recruiting classes to no more than 15 signees a year for four years, starting with the 2013 class to be formally finalized next week. Most teams can sign 25.

Sanctions also include a four-year postseason ban that began for the 2012 season and a $60 million fine.

If his request to restore scholarships is denied, the congressmen asked Emmert to deduct from the fine an amount equal to 40 scholarships so the school can use it instead to supply access to academic programs.

In announcing sanctions last July, Emmert drew the ire of some fans and alumni after the NCAA denounced the school for ”perpetuating a ‘football-first’ culture that ultimately enabled serial child sexual abuse to occur.”

Penn State historically has had high graduation rates for athletes. Dent cited in his letter NCAA data released last year showing the football team had a record graduation rate of 91 percent, which was tied with Rutgers for seventh best among major college programs. The major college average was 68 percent.

Dent said the statistics showed Penn State places education ahead of football.

Press Conference Today 10 am Central–Pa Files Suit Against NCAA


Gov. Tom Corbett will announce and discuss the state of Pennsylvania‘s antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over the sanctions it levied against Penn State at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Nittany Lion Inn, according to multiple reports.

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated confirmed the state is filing an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, though no more details were divulged.

By Tuesday night, it had been confirmed by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel that Corbett will hold a press conference Wednesday morning. Local television station WJAC-TV confirmed Penn State’s Board of Trustees will meet via telephone conference prior to the press conference in order to be briefed on the lawsuit.

 

Penn State spokesman Dave La Torre said on Tuesday that Penn State has no involvement in the suit.

Penn State’s sanctions, which were handed down on July 23 during an announcement by NCAA President Mark Emmert, include a four-year postseason ban, a loss of scholarships and a $60 million fine that will go toward victim relief programs. Additionally, all wins by the football team under former coach Joe Paterno between 1998-2011 were wiped from the record books.

Effort to Keep NCAA Fine of 60M in Pennsylvania


By Jessica VanderKolk — jvanderk@centredaily.com

State Sen.  Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, announced Thursday he plans to introduce legislation in January that would keep the NCAA’s entire $60 million fine against Penn State in Pennsylvania.

He said he also will file a lawsuit, seeking to prohibit the  NCAA from releasing funds to any organization outside of Pennsylvania.

The  fine was part of the university’s punishment following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Penn State this month paid the first, $12 million, installment and has five years to pay the entire amount.

Corman’s legislation generally would require that any governing body-issued fine above $10 million against a university receiving state money would remain in an in-state endowment.

He said spreading out the $60 million Penn State fine to address child abuse issues nationally would not have a significant impact.

“I think you should set Pennsylvania up as a model,” Corman said. “These are funds from a public university, athletic department dollars. They’re coming largely from Pennsylvanians, so it should go to the betterment of Pennsylvania.”

Penn State did not offer any comment on Corman’s proposal.

“We haven’t seen it so we couldn’t comment,” spokesman David La Torre wrote in an email.

Corman said the legislation would not impede on the consent decree signed by the NCAA and Penn State, agreeing to the sanctions against the university. The section related to the fine does not specify where the money must be spent, only that it may not fund programs at the university.

“Our goal is to have a policy in place that, if a university is subject to something of this nature, they would need to set up an endowment in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Corman said he sent an initial letter to the NCAA which, from initial announcement of the sanctions,  has pledged to keep at least 25 percent of Penn State’s fine in Pennsylvania. He said the reply from Chief Financial Officer Kathleen McNeely was that the 25 percent was “not a number they were willing to move on.”

Corman said he followed up with a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, offering to fly to Indianapolis, where the organization is based, for a meeting.

“He won’t give us a meeting,” Corman said, adding he had not received a reply. “So we’ve now tried to move in a different direction, to try to solve this problem legislatively.”

When asked for comment, an NCAA spokeswoman responded with links to the organization’s website that discuss its  Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force, which will determine the “structure and policies” for the fund created by the Penn State fine.