As Penn State University's leadership sees it, student trustee Peter Khoury cannot simultaneously sue the NCAA while serving effectively on a panel that will help identify the university's next president.
Mr. Khoury "had to make a choice," read a statement Tuesday issued by Penn State spokesman David La Torre.
But a group critical of Penn State's prompt acceptance last year of landmark NCAA sanctions in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal had another take on the matter, calling it one more attempt to squelch dissent.
"The power bloc of trustees that has sought to marginalize anyone who questions their actions since November 2011 has struck again," read a statement from Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, (PS4RS), a group of alumni and others. "This time, they have threatened the sole voice of Penn State students on the Board."
Those words were exchanged after the Centre Daily Times, in a story published Tuesday, quoted Mr. Khoury as saying he plans to withdraw as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by family of late football coach Joe Paterno challenging the NCAA sanctions. Four other Penn State trustees -- Ryan McCombie, Anthony Lubrano, Al Clemens and Adam Taliaferro -- also are plaintiffs along with faculty and former football coaches and players.
The newspaper said Mr. Khoury indicated he was threatened with removal from the Penn State Presidential Selection Council, but would not discuss in the interview the events leading to it.
"My decision to come off of the suit entails looking at my unique position being a student who represents the university's interest and also looking at what would be best to continue ensured and effective participation of a student in critical university matters here," Mr. Khoury is quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Mr. La Torre's statement said board leadership "has serious concerns" that the role of all five trustees suing as board members "creates a conflict of interest" and "conflicts with the university's position" on the matter. But PS4RS said school trustees "never voted to accept the NCAA sanctions, so in fact there can be no conflict."
Mr. La Torre's statement said Mr. Khoury's interest in the suit would mean he would have to recuse himself from certain committee deliberations and candidate interviews.
Bill Schackner: email@example.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.