Penn State trustees make pitch to NCAA

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NEW YORK -- Penn State's trustees are on a mission to promote the reforms they have enacted as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, hoping their record might persuade the NCAA to reconsider its penalties against the university before they are to expire in 2018.

In an hourlong interview Wednesday in New York with The Associated Press, board chairman Keith Masser and longtime board member Joel Myers did not offer a time frame for approaching the NCAA, but noted the university's consent agreement with the NCAA allows it to be reopened if both sides agree.

They said the school is still working to implement a long list of governance and oversight changes suggested a year ago in a report from the team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

"You've got to serve some jail time before you get probation," Masser said. "Everybody wants to get this behind us as soon as possible, so we want to do whatever we can do to get this behind us as soon as possible."

He said the school is now trying to demonstrate "to the NCAA and the entire world" that it aims to embody the highest moral and ethical standards in college sports.

The NCAA agreement, signed in July, includes a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a loss of scholarships and the invalidation of 112 wins from the final years of late coach Joe Paterno.

Their public relations push comes a month after university alumni elected three trustees who were endorsed by an alumni group critical of university leadership, and less than a week after Paterno's family and others with Penn State ties -- including five current members of the board of trustees -- sued in an effort to overturn the sanctions.

Masser, a farmer, said he was concerned the trustees' participation in the lawsuit might run counter to that goal.

"The message we sent to the NCAA is that Penn State University is not a part of this lawsuit," Masser said.

The board was studying the legal issues the case has raised, he said.

"I believe there's certain things you can do as individuals, but when you become a member of the board of trustees, there are other obligations you have," he said.

Anthony Lubrano, one of the five, said they do not consider that to be a legitimate concern.

The five of them, he said, "believe that we are acting in the best interests of Penn State. It's really that simple."

Paul Kelly, the lawyer handling the lawsuit for the plaintiffs, said the NCAA's record regarding relaxation of sanctions should not give the school much hope. He said the five support the reforms, but whether the NCAA penalties were proper is a separate question.

The men touted the changes at Penn State since Sandusky's arrest, a long list that includes training staff in child abuse recognition and reporting, as well as cutting the governor and university president from the board.

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