PSU trustees to discuss NCAA lawsuit status
HARRISBURG – Penn State’s trustees will meet by phone this week to discuss the status of state officials’ lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of a $60 million fine the university has been paying because of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
There will be a public conference call at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday after a closed-door executive session, a board spokesman said Monday.
Commonwealth Court added Penn State as a defendant in the lawsuit after also ruling that it needed more information about whether the consent decree that authorized the fine was enacted legally. A status conference in that matter is scheduled for Thursday.
State Sen. Jake Corman, who sued with Treasurer Rob McCord in an effort to keep the money within Pennsylvania, said Monday there have been discussions, but a settlement is not imminent. The NCAA declined to comment.
Corman said he was not sure what the board will discuss.
“They can talk about what they know so far, but again, things are very early,” Corman said. “Maybe they’re just bringing their board up to date on what’s happened so far, which isn’t much.”
McCord said it is “time for the board to weigh in and define its priorities. Unfortunately, many of the challenges associated with this process flow from justifiable anger over the Freeh Report and its deficiencies.”
The report about the Sandusky matter, commissioned by Penn State and produced by a team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, has been a lightning rod for criticism among alumni and fans.
Last week, the board’s nine alumni trustees wrote to Chairman Keith Masser, saying they wanted to meet on the topic before the end of the month and urging that no decisions be made before the board determines what direction it wants to take.
On Monday, the alumni trustees said they would be assembling inside a State College hotel room for the conference call on Wednesday.
The alumni trustees wrote in a statement that board leadership and the trustees’ own legal subcommittee “appear to be more sympathetic to the NCAA’s dilemma and less ambitious than elected trustees about restoring Penn State to its pre-consent decree culture and excellence.”
The NCAA imposed a consent decree, accepted by the university, shortly after Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Along with the fine, it also included a four-year ban on post-season play, a temporary cut in football scholarships and the reduction of 112 wins from the football team’s record, covering Joe Paterno’s final years.
The $60 million fine is also the subject of a federal lawsuit brought by the NCAA against Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials. In that case, a federal judge last week gave the parties a month to try to work out a possible settlement. The NCAA argues the 2013 state law – passed after Penn State agreed to the sanctions – violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Paterno family and others also are pursuing a lawsuit that challenges the legality of the consent decree, among other things. It is pending in Centre County Common Pleas Court.