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Penn State Trustees Set for Special Meeting to Hash Out NCAA Litigation

by on August 12, 2014 8:00 PM

The Penn State Board of Trustees is holding a special meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the university's stance on litigation involving the NCAA.

They'll talk about what the university plans to do if there's a potential settlement in a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by state Sen. Jake Corman and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. That lawsuit, filed in state court, is an attempt to force the NCAA to comply with the Endowment Act.

The act, passed by the General Assembly on Feb. 20, 2013, requires that any institution of higher education that receives state appropriated funds and has been given a penalty of $10 million or more from an outside governing body must establish an endowment that will distribute the funds inside the Commonwealth.

At the center of the legal dispute is the consent decree that Penn State signed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. By signing the consent decree in July 2012 Penn State agreed to harsh sanctions imposed by the NCAA. Those sanctions included football scholarship reductions, the vacating of 111 wins under former coach Joe Paterno and a $60 million dollar fine.

A letter circulated by a faction of trustees, all of whom who were elected by Penn State alumni, notes that in a ruling on April 9, 2014, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court of Appeals questions the validity of the NCAA Consent Decree. Penn State was added to the lawsuit in that April 9 ruling. The alumni trustees believe the NCAA is under pressure to reach a settlement.

However, Corman says no deal is imminent. He told StateCollege.com on Monday, "At this point there's there's been some discussions with the NCAA but no formal offer or negotiations. There's no settlement on the table."

The letter from the alumni trustee says, "The rush in the Freeh Report in 2012  — and the Consent Decree that blindly relied on it brought tragic consequences. The Freeh firm and the NCAA created that rush, but only because the Board was intimidated by them and allowed them full control. Now, once again, the NCAA is trying to create a false sense of urgency to end its litigation risk. Not this time. We must control our input on the content and timing of the settlement discussions."

The letter demands that any settlement with the NCAA, "must terminate the Consent Decree and all sanctions, acknowledge the NCAA’s responsibility for its errors, and return all funds to the University."

The letter is signed by Edward Brown, Barbara Doran, Robert Jubelirer, Albert Lord, Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie, William Oldsey, Alice Pope and Adam Taliaferro.

The alumni trustees also complain that board leadership has not revealed an agenda for Wednesday's special meeting. However, Penn State spokesperson David La Torre says "the sole agenda item" is to discuss any potential settlement in the Corman lawsuit.

The special meeting is being conducted over the telephone as part of a conference call. However, the alumni trustees say they've reserved Deans Hall I at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center so supporters can attend and demonstrate their interest in "setting the record straight." 

The special meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. You can listen in to the conference call at http://wpsu.org/live.

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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