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Steve Garban, Former Chair at Onset of Sandusky Scandal, Resigns from Board of Trustees

by on July 19, 2012 8:46 PM

Steve Garban has resigned from the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Garban, the embattled former chair of the board when the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal first came to light, faced mounting criticism for his handling of the scandal.

The resignation was reflected on the university Board of Trustees website Thursday night with his resignation letter. He said after hearing chairwoman Karen Peetz's call for board members to evaluate their futures, he came to the conclusion his "presence on the board has become a distraction and an impediment to your efforts to move forward . . ."

Garban, who said he was not planning on seeking another term on the board when his seat expired in 2013, came under fire in the university-commissioned, independent investigative report on the Sandusky scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

Garban was informed by university leaders in late October about the grand jury investigations and potential charges from the attorney general’s office, according to the Freeh Report. He only discussed it with vice chairman John Surma and board member Jim Broadhurst.

Board members have since said they should have been better informed.

Penn State released Peetz's response to Garban’s resignation letter.

“Earlier today I accepted Steve Garban’s resignation from the Board of Trustees,” the statement reads. “I want to sincerely thank him for his many years of service to Penn State University and for the leadership he exhibited today.

“Steve dedicated his adult life to Penn State, devoting more than 33 years of service to help make this a better institution. Few love this University more than Steve, and his passion and commitment to the University have never been more apparent than they are today. This selfless leadership exemplifies the culture shift we are working hard to create.

“I will miss Steve and his many contributions to the Board, but I understand and respect his reasons for leaving."

A call placed to the Garban home yielded a voice mailbox automated message saying it was full.

Maribeth Schmidt, part of the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, also issued a statement in response to Garban's resignation. The group has called for the entire board to resign, though university president Rodney Erickson has said that decision would be left up to each individual member.

"It's a positive, but merely symbolic step that Steve Garban has resigned from the Penn State Board of Trustees," Schmidt wrote.

"His actions and inactions have caused irreparable harm. The members of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship are adamant in our demand that the rest of the board must follow suit – including the emeritus trustees. If the University is basing its actions on the findings of the Freeh Report, then it's important to recognize that Freeh didn't single out just Garban for gross negligence and lack of oversight.

"The report called out the ENTIRE Board of Trustees — all 28 of whom were at the helm in November and before. One resignation is symbolic change; 28 resignations is serious change. And these circumstances call for serious change to steer the University and all of its stakeholders toward a new day."

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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