9 PSU trustees seek meeting on consent decree

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the NCAA and commonwealth discuss settling a lawsuit over the NCAA consent decree and its $60 million fine, Penn State University's nine alumni trustees want the board to hold a special meeting to define its position regarding the possible settlement and the decree.

The request was made in a letter that was addressed to board chairman Keith Masser and seeks a special meeting to be held Aug. 22 or any time during the week of Aug. 18-22.

It comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision this week to give the NCAA and state officials 30 days to work out a settlement of a lawsuit over the consent decree and $60 million fine arising from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

“The purpose of this meeting is to address settlement discussions that have and will take place among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Pennsylvania State University,” the letter read. “It is critical to address this issue immediately because our board is generally uninformed about these important negotiations and is certainly divided in its views about the NCAA Consent Decree and related sanctions.”

The letter was signed by alumni board members Edward B. Brown, Barbara L. Doran, Robert C. Jubelirer, Anthony Lubrano, Albert Lord, Ryan McCombie, William F. Oldsey, Alice W. Pope and Adam Taliaferro.

Mr. Masser could not be reached for comment.

“Settlement discussions are ongoing with respect to a possible resolution of the [Jake] Corman v. NCAA litigation,” said Penn State spokesman Dave La Torre.

“One of the matters being discussed is the appropriate time to convene a meeting of the Board of Trustees to discuss a proposed settlement.”

The letter refers to the lawsuit between state Sen. Corman, R-Centre County, and state Treasurer Rob McCord and the NCAA. The state officials sued the NCAA to keep the $60 million in fines the NCAA imposed for in-state charities.

In April, Commonwealth Court in a 6-1 vote upheld a law that would force the money to stay in-state, and Judge Anne E. Covey questioned the validity of the consent decree. The court also called for Penn State to be made a party to the case, given the expanded issues regarding the consent decree.

“Yet to date most of the Board has been excluded from these conversations,” the letter stated. “Only secret meetings that you and the legal subcommittee hold have addressed the subject.”

In a related lawsuit, the NCAA is suing over the state law that would require the fine money be spent in the state.

All this comes as former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell prepares to release his second annual report on Penn State – due in September – as part of his duty as integrity monitor for the NCAA’s sanctions against the university. He said last year that if more sanctions are to be reduced, it wouldn't happen at least until after his second annual report.

This is the second time in the last two months that the alumni trustees have taken a stand regarding past actions of Penn State. At a July board meeting, alumni trustee Lord introduced a motion for the trustees to re-examine the Freeh Report. Mr. Masser tabled the motion, saying legal issues would need to be ironed out, so the proposal probably won’t be discussed until September’s board meeting.

The alumni trustees’ letter closed with a request for urgency:

“The NCAA is at serious risk in this, as in other PSU-related litigation and other matters nationwide. …Time is short. We have been told the Board had no opportunity to dispute the Consent Decree in 2012. Let us not make that mistake again.”

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791.

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05 First Published August 8, 2014 11:51 AM

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