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Penn State Trustees to Tackle Controversial NCAA Emails, Board Structure

by on November 13, 2014 6:55 AM

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about the meeting's additional security.

After a series of low-key and fairly routine discussions on Thursday, sparks could fly between members of the Penn State Board of Trustee on Friday.

Bracing themselves for a heated meeting, extra security will be present at the public meeting on Friday afternoon. A Penn State news release states that several board members received threats since the board's last meeting. In October, the board of trustees voted not to reopen the Freeh report, leading to several audience members to be escorted from the room by security after screaming at the board.

"Board leadership also feels additional police presence is needed to maintain appropriate decorum at the meeting so that the necessary business of the board can be completed without disruption," the news release states.

The release asks attendees not to bring any bags or backpacks to the meeting. Those who do must have their bag searched or exit the building.

On the table for Friday's discussion are a series of controversial issues that have divided the board in the past.

Trustee Anthony Lubrano says the board will spend several hours in executive session Friday morning. Certain to be a hot topic are emails from the NCAA that have called the actions of the athletic organization into question. The emails were released through filings in State Senator Jake Corman's lawsuit with the NCAA in commonwealth court.

Some of the emails refer to the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State as "a bluff," while others suggest the organization may have influenced the report from Louis Freeh that formed the basis of sanctions against Penn State's football program.

in a statement last week, board of trustees chair Keith Masser and Penn State President Eric Barron said the university is considering its options. Lubrano expects this debate - which may include the possibility of taking legal action - to bring out strong emotions among trustees.

Despite the controversial content of these emails, the situation involving the NCAA was not discussed in the board's various public subcommittee meetings on Thursday.

The trustees must also decide whether to approve a plan to restructure the board or delay a vote on the issue.

The board of trustees and the state legislature have both been working on separate proposals to dramatically change the structure of the board. State Senator John Yudichak, a Penn State graduate, has drafted a bill in the senate that would reduce the board from 30 to 23 voting members. His bill passed with unanimous support through the senate's state government committee in June.

In September, a board of trustees subcommittee passed a proposal that would increase the board to 38 members while removing several governor-appointed trustees. The full board is scheduled to vote on that proposal on Friday, but Yudichak, Corman and several trustees want a delay.

"We are all interested in moving our university forward and ensuring that a balanced governing approach is approved," Corman and Yudichak wrote to board of trustees chair Keith Masser on Thursday. "However, in midst of a transition in gubernatorial administrations this is not the time for board action on significant governance reform."

The letter states that there is no time limit for deciding on a new board of trustees structure. Corman and Yudichak write that members of governor-elect Tom Wolf's administration and the state legislature should be involved in more conversation before any final vote on the issue.

Masser told StateCollege.com he has no comment on the letter.

"I absolutely agree with [Corman and Yudichak]," trustee Al Lord says, explaining that he feels Wolf should be included in the conversation. 

"I don't want to pick a fight the commonwealth," Lord says. "This is the same commonwealth that gives us millions of dollars a year. Why would we want to be at odds?"

The trustees will meet at 1:30 p.m. in the President's Hall at the Penn State hotel.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com 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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Penn State Trustees to Tackle Controversial Issues at Board Meetings
November 13, 2014 6:40 AM
by Michael Martin Garrett
Penn State Trustees to Tackle Controversial Issues at Board Meetings
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