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Board of Trustees Unanimously Approves Settlement in Corman-NCAA Lawsuit

by on January 16, 2015 4:56 PM

For the perhaps first time in recent memory, the Penn State Board of Trustees was in complete agreement.

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposed settlement in State Sen. Jake Corman’s lawsuit with the NCAA, bypassing the stark division between the alumni-elected trustees and the rest of the board.

Alumni-elected Trustee Anthony Lubrano says he hopes this vote of solidarity can be a first step towards mending the chasm between the minority of alumni-elects and the majority of the remaining trustees.

“I think it was important that this vote be unanimous from a symbolic standpoint,” Lubrano says. “We’ve been so fragmented, but we are capable of working together.”

Pending approval by the NCAA’s executive board, the settlement repeals the consent decree, restores former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno’s 111 vacated football wins and funnels the $60 million fine against Penn State into child abuse prevention programs in Pennsylvania. The settlement also calls for the university to enter into a new Athletic Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and Big Ten Conference.

Lubrano says not every trustee was thrilled about every detail of the settlement, but he stresses that Friday was a victory for Penn State.

“This was a beat down on the NCAA,” he says.

Penn State President Eric Barron told the board the exact terms of the new Athletic Integrity Agreement have not yet been determined, though he stresses the university’s commitment to compliance and ethical conduct remain unchanged. Barron says he will work with representatives from the NCAA and the Big Ten to nail down the details “as early as we can.”

The settlement ends the lawsuit that Corman and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord brought against the NCAA over two years ago, and prevents the parties from filing similar litigation in the future. Penn State was a nominal defendant to the suit. Corman and McCord initially sued in an attempt to keep the $60 million fine against Penn State within Pennsylvania, but the lawsuit later expanded to challenge the consent decree that allowed the NCAA to impose its now-repealed sanctions.

“This agreement is good for Pennsylvania and the University. It will keep $60 million here in Pennsylvania for the fight against child sexual abuse,“ board of trustee chairman Keith Masser says in an official statement. Masser was unable to attend a scheduled news conference following the board of trustees meeting.

Barron says $48 million out of the total $60 million will go to the Pennsylvania government to provide services for victims of child abuse, while $12 million will stay at Penn State to create an endowment as a “long-term investment in expanding research, education and public service to help eradicate child abuse.”

Barron adds that there will be “a time and place” for university leadership to revisit the topic of honoring Joe Paterno and possibly returning the statue of the winningest coach in college football to its former location outside Beaver Stadium.

Despite the unanimous agreement on the board to approve the settlement, student trustee Allison Goldstein called attention to the distrust and disagreement that has plagued the board in recent months.

“Penn State was accused of having a culture problem, and three years later, we are still fighting over it,” Golstein said. “Let us take command of our culture … If we can put aside our differences, put aside our mistrust, our politics, I wonder if we can come together.”

President Barron also made a separate announcement at Friday’s meeting that he hopes will have a profound impact across the university.

“It’s been a day of rather good news,” Barron said. “I’ve announced tuition freezes at eight campuses.”

The Shenango, Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto, New Kensington and Wilkes-Barre campuses will see no tution increase for the 2015-16 academic year. Those campuses were chosen because each has a high number of students with great financial need.

This announcement was part of lengthy presentation concerning efforts to make a Penn State education more affordable and accessible to a greater number of students.  Barron also made additional suggestions, including recommending a program that will employ students on campus over summer semesters, thereby shortening the time to obtain a degree and lowering the total cost to the student.

The board of trustees also moved several construction projects to the design phase, including the $12 million renovation to the Lasch Football Building. The board also voted for Penn State to acquire the Berks County-based St. Joseph Regional Health Network, and for the Hershey Medical Group to move forward with a merger with the PinnacleHealth System of Central Pennsylvania.


Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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