Penn St. trustee questions decision

By Anne Danahy

Published: Friday, Aug. 10 2012 11:49 p.m. MDT

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Another Penn State trustee is questioning the university's decision to go along with NCAA sanctions and is calling on the board to postpone a meeting Sunday when it is scheduled to vote on endorsing those penalties.

Joel Myers, a board member from State College, Pa., sent an e-mail to trustees Friday that he also shared with some alumni, listing a number of things he says need to take place before the board can make an informed decision

"We need to understand if improper or illegal coercion was brought to bear on the university to extract a signature on the document," Myers' letter says in part.

He also questions whether the board announced the meeting far enough in advance and whether the telephone conference that's planned for 5 p.m. Sunday is the best way to carry out the vote. "Being in a face-to-face discussion and debate is essential for a full and fair consideration of this issue," Myers wrote in his letter.

President Rodney Erickson approved the stiff NCAA penalties without getting full board approval, which the university has said wasn't needed. The sanctions - including a four-year bowl ban, fewer scholarships and $60 million in penalties - follow findings by Louis Freeh that Joe Paterno and three former administrators tried to cover up Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of boys on campus.

Even though the university says the board vote isn't needed, it issued a statement saying the Sunday meeting "will ensure there is no misunderstanding or further confusion as to where the board stands on this matter."

Newly elected trustee Ryan McCombie, with the support of at least one other board member, is challenging the sanctions. He, along with the Paterno family and a group of former players, filed notices of intent to appeal with the NCAA. The NCAA says the decree - which falls outside normal sanctions - isn't subject to appeal.

In his letter, Myers lists a number of things that should happen before a board vote on the NCAA decree, including an analysis of the Freeh report by the administration and a study on what effect accepting the NCAA consent decree could have on the university, including its finances, students, faculty and lawsuits it either is or could be facing.

Maribeth Schmidt, spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said the group supports Myers' efforts to understand the Freeh report before voting.

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