Why isn’t the Turkey writing about yesterday’s Penn State Board of Trustees meeting?
Because there was no Penn State Board of Trustees meeting!
What you sat through, if you were one of the couple thousand who tuned in to the live feed, was not a real meeting. Karen Peetz, chairwoman of the BoT told us almost right off the bat that there were technical legal matters including the fact proper notice was not given per one governing document but would have been given under another that would preclude the meeting from being an official meeting. Therefore, there would be no votes and she would not entertain any motions. No business was to be conducted. However, everyone could make a personal statement of support for Rod Erickson’s acceptance of the terms of the NCAA consent decree if they wanted, after a couple of words from counsel.
Throughout the conference call, there were beeps signifying people connecting and disconnecting. That was annoying enough, but it couldn’t hold an annoyance candle to the sentiment of the majority of the board that Erickson did the right thing and besides, he was empowered to sign the consent decree.
This sentiment seems in most to be based on the notion that the NCAA would have forced upon Penn State a “death penalty” if the consent decree wasn’t signed right there, right then, the Sunday night before the Monday morning announcement of the agreed upon sanctions. But folks, doesn’t that sound like extortion? As I tweeted, “Take it or leave it” = “an offer you can’t refuse” = extortion.
Our esteemed legal counsel advises us that because membership in the NCAA is voluntary, members agree to 400 pounds of rules when they choose to join, and this is sufficient for the courts to generally uphold the NCAA’s right to impose whatever form of punishment they want to impose. But what if the situation in question is not covered by the 400 pounds of NCAA rules? As Dr. Emmert stated even before sanctions were assessed, this whole situation is unprecedented. Apparently, that called for an unprecedented bending of the rules to impose an unprecedented punishment on Penn State.
And another thing. Erickson might have been empowered to do business for the university on his own authority, but was he empowered to commit $60 million on behalf of the university without board approval? This was not routine business; thus, that he could sign off on a $60 million commitment doesn’t seem likely. But I don’t make the rules — or change them to suit the circumstances.
I said that Peetz declared a non-meeting almost at the beginning. Actually, trustee Joel Myers managed to speak first, introducing a motion to immediately adjourn the meeting because of the conditions stated in his letter to the board, the first of which turned out to be the “technical legal issue” that Peetz mentioned. The motion was seconded, but I do not recall by whom. When Peetz began to speak, Myers interrupted her saying that there was a motion on the floor that had been duly seconded. Peetz countered with the spiel about not being an official meeting and therefore no motions were being entertained by the chair.
After the legal eagle flapped his wings for a while, the trustees were called in turn to see if they had anything to say. Most said that Erickson did the right thing and he has their support. A few didn’t, being the usual suspects: Myers, Lubrano, and McCombie, although McCombie said that he had advised his attorney not to proceed with the appeal to the NCAA he filed on behalf of the four directors.
Adam Taliafero expressed his support for Erickson, but was unhappy with the sanctions. He’s been saying all along that he played in many of those games whose wins were vacated and even nearly died in one of them.
The governor, of course, wants to get the show on the road. He spoke in favor of Erickson.
If there had been a vote, it would have wound up largely in favor of ratifying the consent decree and exonerating Erickson from any essence of having improperly executed his responsibility and duties.
Whether there will be a formal meeting to do so is in doubt in my mind.
During one of the trustees’ glowing tributes to Erickson, he asked about the status of the Clery Act investigation by the US Department of Education. It turns out that the investigators would be on campus today. The board asked to be kept in the loop about what was going on there.
So that could be the next can of worms. Part of me wants to put the whole NCAA thing behind us because of what negative events might loom in the future. One of them is the Clery investigation and another is the collection of potential civil suits to be filed against the university by the Sandusky victims. To have three major legal battles proceeding simultaneously would be at the very least, distracting.
On the other hand, part of me doesn’t like to take the easy way out, and as I’ve been saying all along, I think the “death penalty” crap from the NCAA was a big bluff. Has Erickson ever fought for anything, other than denying tenure to some assistant professor, or hiring a new dean of the college of agriculture? Does he know how to fight? If one encounter with Emmert made him think he had his balls in the twisteroo, I don’t think he stood up enough. One additional thing that came out at last night’s non-meeting was the Erickson was threatened that any leaks of the details before the Monday announcement would result in the strongest possible action against Penn State. (In diplomatic circles, that means nuclear tipped missiles would rain down on the campus.) More extortion!
I hate to admit it, but I think this thing is pretty much over. Not unlike those “birthers” who are still trying to assert that Obama wasn’t born in the USA three-and-a-half years into his presidency, those who spin their wheels trying to find little tidbits here and there where this or that rule was broken are probably pissing in the wind one technicality at a time.