The filing of a lawsuit this week against the National Collegiate Athletic Association over its sanctions against Penn State's football program shows a growing division among members of the university's board of trustees.
Penn State issed a statement that it remains committed to complying with the NCAA sanctions leveled in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal involving the university's former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.
But five of the 32-member board of trustees clearly are not on board.
Trustees Anthony P. Lubrano, Ryan McCombie and former Penn State football player Adam Taliaferro - all elected to their seats by alumni in 2012 - along with Al Clemens, a gubernatorial appointee, and Peter Khoury, a student representative who is currently in a graduate program, have signed on to a lawsuit against the NCAA filed by the family of the late Joe Paterno and others in Centre County Court this week.
In addition, three incoming members of the board - Barbara Doran, Ted Brown and Bill Oldsey, all elected by alumni this spring, announced in a press release that they also support the lawsuit. They will take their seats on July 1.
That means eight of the 32 members - one quarter - will stand in opposition to the sanctions, including a ban on bowl player, a $60 million fine and loss of scholarships.
“By most accounts, the NCAA bullied, threatened and rushed to punish Penn State for actions well outside its purview as an athletic trade association,” Doran said in a prepared statement. ‘As yet, there is no formal or credible evidence of a cover-up of Sandusky's crimes by anyone at the university, as criminal trials and full discovery for the individuals in question have not yet happened.”
The NCAA leveled the sanctions after the investigative report by former FBI director Louis Freeh and his group said the university’s leadership including Paterno, former President Graham B. Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and administrator Gary Schultz conspired to cover up the crimes of Sandusky, now in prison. Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial. Paterno was never charged.
The Paterno family has staunchly denounced the Freeh report. The incoming alumni trustees, Lubrano and others also have been critical of the Freeh report.
The board of trustees next meets on July 12 at Penn State's Fayette campus in western Pennsylvania.