The Penn State Board of Trustees weekend retreat promised to have some thrills and chills, and this Turkey was not disappointed, tuning in from afar. In particular, Joel Myers addressed the board with the impassioned speech below, for which he received a standing ovation.
Jerry Sandusky is convicted as a sick and monstrous man. Under the guise of helping children, he victimized them. Those victims continue to suffer to this day. Some were victimized on our campus, and we take as much responsibility for that as is humanly possible.
By shining the light on what happened and becoming a leader against child sexual abuse, we hope to save tens of thousands of potential future victims nationwide from a similar fate as well as help those who have suffered here.
Education and awareness is the key to reducing sexual abuse, which is a plague upon this nation. Education is what we are all about. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Sexual abuse is not a rarity. It is all too common in this society. We are learning it has happened not only at Penn State but at other colleges and universities. If there is any good from this tragedy, it is the spotlight that has been shown on this epidemic of child abuse and the challenge to stop it.
Penn State is a great university. It was great prior to November and it is today. It was a great university prior to the Freeh report and it is today. Penn State was a great university before the NCAA’s unfair sanctions were forced upon it and it is today.
We have had high admission standards. We are one of the top universities, not only in the United States, but in the world.
Penn State leads the way in many fields. The Penn State faculty, staff, students, alumni and the entire Penn State community contribute significantly to Pennsylvania, the United States, and the global society.
Once we became aware of this tragedy — and we have also learned that villains of this type are great manipulators and coverup artists — we did everything a good institution should do to move forward, and we took action to get the facts out.
We hired an independent investigator to explore and provide his expert opinion and findings. However the Freeh report, despite what the NCAA consent decree says, is still being reviewed by the Board, and has not been fully accepted. We committed to a full disclosure. We committed to move forward in a healthy way, correcting what was wrong, and providing information to law enforcement officials so that those accused would have their day in court.
Penn State has had a clean and enviable athletic record, one of only three universities in the nation to never have a major sanction by the NCAA. Penn State has maintained one of the highest graduation rates among football athletes compared to their peer institutions. This didn’t occur in only one year, it happened year after year, decade after decade.
One should ask why is it that the NCAA wants to tear down this model?
Why is the NCAA, which includes among its members, schools and universities who graduate 20 percent of their basketball players and 50 percent of their football players, sanctioning Penn State for allowing athletics to trump academics, when it is Penn State which graduates 88 percent of its football players, not one year or two, but year after year and decade after decade.
These sanctions are a blight on the NCAA and our competing institutions that make up the NCAA boards.
My 9-year old son has said to me, “Dad, I helped cheer Penn State on to victory last year and now those wins have been erased. I did what you always told me to do, Dad, I gave it my all, and my cheering and enthusiasm helped support the student athletes. I felt good when we won games. It does not seem fair that they took away those wins, not only from Penn State, but away from the athletes, from the fans, and from me.”
Hundreds of thousands of Penn State families have similarly suffered. How does this help the concept of higher education, of fairness and dignity, of inspiration? What is it even based on and what does it even mean? It is a fiction; the games were won based on hard work by thousands, unrelated to Sandusky and his crimes. It is one more fiction that the NCAA has used to simply inflict hurt on the Nittany Nation with no benefit to anyone. It is designed to damage innocent students who played on the field and millions who attended the games. It is a petulant child gone wild. The NCAA has lost its moral compass. In the cold light of day we must realize we have to stand up against this, not stand down.
There is also the issue of the “vultures” – coaches from other schools stalking our football players outside the football building after the NCAA said it was “legal” to steal away our players, even though the NCAA normally considers such recruiting illegal. The NCAA essentially said stealing is legal against Penn State.
If we must play the schools that did this to us lets be sure the crowds overwhelm them with our noise and good sportsmanship and the Nittany Lions show them no mercy on the field.
Should we even be a part of the Big Ten if our own conference schools helped tear us down? I thought they were here to help us, not to hurt us. In my view this does not fit with the ideals of fair play that we teach our students. In the cold light of day we must realize we have to stand up against this, not stand down.
The NCAA are people who tell Penn State that we put athletics before academics. The reverse is true. Perhaps these university presidents were looking in the mirror when they conjured up that statement.
For institutions of higher learning to disregard the facts and reach false conclusions betrays the very core principles for which institutions of higher learning stand and have stood for centuries.
Shame on them all. I am tired of being told we need to put practicality above principle. In the cold light of day we must realize we have to stand up against this, not stand down.
Our lawyers have used the term “crammed down,” where Emmert, the man who “negotiated” with our president Rod Erickson essentially said “you sign this agreement or you have the death penalty, you will play no football for four years.”
“Also, Mr. President, you are not allowed to tell the Board of Trustees. You are going to do this because if you tell them and it leaks out, we will settle for nothing less than four years of the winds of October and November blowing through an empty Beaver stadium. By the way, Dr. Erickson, we do not care if by not telling the Board of Trustees you may be violating the charter of the University. And we do not care, Mr. President, that by not telling the Board of Trustees and getting their approval, you will be violating one of the major recommendations of the Freeh report itself and the very principles we are telling you to abide by. We are the NCAA, Mr. President, and we are a dictatorship. We do what we please and you, as an NCAA member, must accept it. So we have power over your institution now and forever.”
Interestingly, some in the NCAA say it did not happen that way, they say no “death penalty” was threatened, but review of the quotes from Emmert and Ray support that it occurred, just as President Erickson has said. I will pass out a review of the quotes that demonstrate these comments. But, even there, a straight answer from the NCAA seems impossible to secure. We see parsed words in a clear attempt to paint Dr. Erickson as a liar. This too is not acceptable. In the cold light of day I believe we have to stand up against this not stand down.
Are these tactics and this lack of clarity and candor what the NCAA stands for? Threats, coercion, lying, stealing, and intimidation are not what we teach our students as appropriate business tactics for a profit or non-profit organization. I would hope such answers on a test would get a failing grade for ethics in the Smeal College of Business and in a law class at the Dickinson School of Law.
In addition, the very processes of the NCAA were not followed by the NCAA and the NCAA seems hell bent on turning a deaf ear to concerns by anyone to review its own despicable actions. In the cold light of day I believe we have to stand up against this, not stand down.
This all contrasts very sharply with the aggressive actions Penn State took quickly and with transparency and candor as the difficult news surrounding the Sandusky crimes came to light.
I personally believe, the NCAA is no longer worthy to be considered a representative of higher education. Furthermore, this powerful NCAA, an association of university presidents, apparently free of control by faculty and university boards is now seriously damaging the mission and reputation of higher education in America. The NCAA needs the fresh air of reform to blow through it. I say to the faculties and the boards of American colleges and universities, take back your institutions. I applaud the recent actions of our own faculty senate in this regard.
Finally, if any of the sanctions against Penn State are to stand, they need to fit within the rules and standards of the NCAA, need to fit within the due process of the NCAA procedures in its charter and by-laws that its member institutions have agreed upon, and needs to meet the high standards that higher education stands for in a system of fairness, and within the American system of the rule of law and justice.
Trustee Anthony Lubrano supported Myers, but trustees Keith Eckel and Mark Dambly said dwelling on the NCAA sanctions won’t help Penn State move forward. Eckel spoke.
“It’s time for this board and this university to stop looking back and start looking ahead. I in no way defend the decisions of the NCAA but I embrace our mission and our responsibility to serve our 95,000 students, our research, our extension, and our faculty.
“I believe that many times we live with unfairness. It is extremely unfortunate that we find ourselves in these circumstances, but at the same time we are Penn State and as our chair said, we are going to move forward, we’re going to meet our mission.
“We are absolutely going to be the university the nation looks up to again.”
Not if we’re viewed as a bunch of cowards who allow ourselves to get slapped around by bullies at every turn. Sorry, Eckel. This isn’t your truck farm.
“To talk about things we can’t change is not a good use of our energy and our time,” added Dambly.
The chairwoman of the BoT, Karen Peetz, said, “We must not — and will not — waver in accepting reality and responsibility. We will take decisive action to right wrongs, change and improve processes and operations, and demonstrate values-based leadership in all that we do.”
In other words, she said nothing.
She was right about one thing, though: It ain’t going to get any easier. “Victim 1” has filed suit against the university. So, the piling-on effect will continue. I’m not saying that the family wouldn’t have sued Penn State if the Freeh report wasn’t accepted, but with that tacit admission of guilt, the university is ripe for the taking. They’ve already told the judge and jury they’re culpable, so the only things in doubt are the amount of the award and how many other victims will join the party, encouraged by the comparative ease of the plaintiff proving a case when the defendant’s defense is, “Please don’t hit me too hard!”
There’ll be another all day session on Sunday. One of the issues to be discussed, but not decided upon, is the search for a new university president and provost. No votes will be taken this weekend at all; therefore, this has been classified as an informational, rather than a business, meeting.
So much for the rumors I
ridiculed presented last week about heads rolling at the weekend board meeting. One prediction was that Spanier would spill the beans during the week, which he did. The rumors about the Clery Act coming to a head were untrue, yet it seems that part of this weekend’s meeting will be devoted to retrospectively condemning internal record keeping practices in anticipation of being slapped silly by the US Department of Education.
That’s the Penn State way of late: make a grandstand play at the eleventh hour in hopes of appeasing the big bad bullies. It didn’t work with the NCAA when PSU removed the Paterno statue and announced the resignation of fomer BoT chair Steve Garban in the days leading up to the draconian, unfair, vindictive sanctions. The NCAA perceived only weakness. So why should washing dirty underwear in public make the Feds feel like going easy on PSU?
The other rumor was that the accreditation issue would come to a head this week, but the visit by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education isn’t scheduled until November.
I had the feeling that this weekend’s board retreat would be somewhat of a dog and pony show, and I think I was right.
The BOT is acting like the Board of Directors at a typical Fortune 500 company.
First, you hire a superhero President to take care of everything and then go golfing. If he screws up, buy your way out of any problems he created (every politician has his/her price), and hire another superhero to take his place. But don’t let anything get in the way of your golfing and other social engagements. And above all, ignore what the shareholders want – they’re just a bunch of ignorant peasants,.
The Nittany Turkey says
Good parallel. Too bad we didn’t get any indication on Sunday of the criteria for selection of the next superhero president and provost.
Are you ready for some football, already?
We’ll show their asses how fast we drop all this BoT shit when football season rolls around. Academics over football; football over political bullshit.
After watching parts of the BoT festivities this weekend I thought that perhaps they should have held this at the Esalen Institute at Big Sur instead of the Penn Stater so they could accomplish their “team building” and “bonding” objectives.
If you recall the 1969 comedy-drama, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, sophisticated Los Angeles residents Bob and Carol Sanders (played by Robert Culp and Natalie Wood) spend a weekend of emotional honesty at an Esalen-style retreat, after which they return to their life determined to embrace free love and complete openness.
Well maybe the BoT could have done without embracing the free love part, but it might have been a better way to spend their weekend as the friction and divisiveness was as apparent as sparks from an abrasive grinding wheel on a piece of steel during the first session, but things seemed to fall in place during the last hour on Sunday!
So after that blast of entertainment, I found that I needed to spend some quality time with my old friend Jimmy Beam to contemplate what I had just witnessed.
While I appreciate Mr. Myer’s statement (if you see his picture, he reminds me of Paterno if he would have continued to dye his hair jet black when he was in his 80’s-scary) this is fight that he has almost no support for within the BoT and can’t win with the NCAA and in the media.
As much as I hate to admit it, we just need to swallow hard and see what happens during the next several months/years. As much as statements like his resonate with PS4RS and other alums, I’ve come to the realization that this car is in the garage and out of gas-it ain’t going nowhere.
He recently sent an email to those who wrote to him (lucky me) prior to the conference call they had on the 12th of August. In it he states in part:
“The Nittany Nation has been directing its ire inward. It has had a tremendous impact. It is time to do something else. Comments by the trustees who were on the Sunday call has one central theme: it placed the criticism, where it belongs, on the NCAA actions. Perhaps the NCAA would appreciate hearing your comments. It’s time to do something new and different. I believe Rod and Karen did what they thought was correct. Good men and women can differ but all Penn Staters want the glory back and we deserve it. We need to put the roar back into the lion. The Nittany Nation has the American right of freedom of speech. Perhaps the NCAA would like to hear your thoughts.”
Huh? Rod and Karen did the correct thing? Penn Staters want the glory back? Write to the NCAA and express your thoughts?
If we continue to push this issue, even though anyone with half a brain knows that the sanctions were brought about by public pressure (and a certain former PS judicial affairs employee), were willfully vindictive, based on speculative conclusions from non-corroborative evidence and included coercion and lies, we will continue to be pilloried from all quarters. And when I write to Mr. Emmert and mention PS, sanctions and unfair, how long do you think it will take his 3rd level admin to hit delete?
So Mr. Beam and I concluded that we need to put this fight on the back burner and wait for Larry and Curly’s trials to be completed and see what happens to Moe in the eyes of the GJ.
If the information paints a different picture, maybe then we can go back to the NCAA and get a year or two reprieve, but they are certainly not going to turn back the clock now and have Emmert say “My bad! I just over reached and based all of my actions on raw emotion. Forgive me will ‘ya?”
Prior to Myers “statement” Peetz mentioned that the BoT has not fully accepted the Freeh report (interesting) but was moving ahead at light speed to implement the “corrective” recommendations contained in Section 10 of the report. These included issues with governance, administration and protection of children while in university facilities and are all depicted in a red, yellow, green matrix with committee assignments which was met with a little bit of bewilderment by committee members. Oh and we’re also going to hire a “Top-Tier” (read $$$$) firm to provide project management of the implementation of all the NCAA and Freeh Report recommendations. (Hope we get a good cash back bonus on our corporate card.)
She also said she’d been in discussion with the NCAA (last week) and they were in agreement that some of the recommendations in the Freeh Report may be too impractical to implement (HUH?)
She’s also met with our new Athletic Integrity Monitor, (the one, the only former US Senator George Mitchell) who pointed out to her that he’s not going to go tattling to the NCAA without first talking to PS and also that if PS fails, he’ll be perceived as failing, so there. They are also working on the Academic Integrity Agreement mandated by the NCAA and the B1G and a whole bunch of other organizational, process and procedural things all depicted in a handy-dandy power point organizational diagram.
An interesting exchange took place between “Big Tony” Lubrano and Ms. Peetz (the woman who wears pearls to everything) regarding an accreditation audit performed by the NCAA in 2008 (lasts for ten years) at which time he reminded the BoT that PS received a glowing review and were determined to be a “role model for compliance” by the NCAA! I guess since we were covering everything up at the time they had to give us a good report. He also wondered why other NCAA members were not going to be required to have an AIM and an Academic Integrity Agreement. He essentially got a “that’s nice” Tony, but we really have to move on.
Thinking about all of the above and the haste to get this stuff in place, Mr. Beam and I came to the conclusion that the majority of the BoT feels that all of this stuff has to be in place or at least on paper soon (like now) to demonstrate to the Clery and accreditation people that we have our shit together and can perhaps dissuade them from applying what could be additional draconian penalties. This perhaps explains the “time to move on”, “laser focus”, “fully on board with NCAA compliance” and “flawless in execution” mantra and approach that most of the board have been preaching and hence the lack of discussion (willingness) to fight the NCAA or Freeh Report content at this time. Mr. Beam agrees with this approach and maybe thinks Ms. Peetz has a point here.
I missed the first hour or so on Sunday when they talked about needing to start looking for a new Provost and President and what they were looking for and when to get started and blah, blah, blah. But the interesting exchange came when the new “image consultant” started talking about going on the offensive and pointing out all the good stuff being done by PS. He talked about students doing humanitarian work in third world countries, Olympic participants, personal stories on Flickr and You Tube and other social media outlets. In other words, all good stuff, but nothing that comes down like a 20lb sledgehammer (I honestly don’t know where they find these people!)
Well “Big Tony” Lubrano chimes in with a “that’s nice, but we’re being criticized about football and academics”, so why don’t we figure out how to point out GPA, graduation rates, NCAA and B1G academic All-Americans and so on. Well after a little pooh-poohing by the image consultant, all of a sudden Surma and Frazier start talking about this being a great idea-questions on the scoreboard during the game (“Of the four schools listed, who has the best GSR score?”), interviews with guys like Urschel (4.0 GPA in mathematics), Etters (3.5 in Aerospace Engineering) and our ranking among world universities. Frazier points out the game is on ESPN and we’ll have a huge audience so why not put something together on our academic successes for the school promo they give each team, why not buy some add space, why not fly a plane with a banner over NCAA headquarters (well he didn’t say that, but I thought it was a good idea). Well even Ms. Peetz started barking out orders for people to start working on this. Mr. Beam and I agreed that this was the first concerted counter-attack endorsed by the full BoT and we both actually like it.
So my apologies for the length of my comments, but, I think I do see some strategy by the BoT here. Perhaps borne more out of necessity than dispelling Freeh or Emmert BS as some alums and organizations would rather see, today at least from my viewpoint (which was shaded by an excellent color of amber this weekend) I don’t have a problem in putting this stuff in a temporary holding pattern while we focus on implementing the proposed recommendations. I don’t think anyone will argue that most of the stuff should have been there in the first place. And if it means our accreditation is not jeopardized or we pay a fine instead of losing federal monies, well that’s a good thing right?
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks, Joe, for your incisive analysis, abetted by the preeminent Dr. James Beam. I now feel as if I had a personal reporting and commentary team at the EST seminar.
It is obvious where this thing is going (or not going), with Obergruppenführer Peetz running the show. I believe as you do that the underground rebellion is going nowhere fast. I have grown weary of hoping against hope that some fairy godmother in the image of Deion Sanders will suddenly see the righteousness of our position and swoop down to save the whole thing.
As you stated, we still have to be worried about the Clery Act compliance issue and the accreditation. We’ve admitted our non-compliance with the former, so I believe that we should start at the maximum possible penalty, possibly with a style points modifier, that being the “laser focus on the future of the university” dog and pony show, the Peetzian Laser, as it were. Although the technique as implemented before the NCAA sanctions were to come down, the token removal of the Paterno statue and Garban’s token resignation from the BoT, didn’t work worth a damn, the board feels that not unlike chicken soup, “it couldn’t hoit.” As for the accreditation, it would indeed be best to mind our Ps and Qs, because we don’t know what to expect given that Triponey has day-to-day accessibility to the leader of the accreditation gang, and she probably knows a few secrets.
You and Mr. Serewicz probably have it right. I’ve been taking the emotional position but that’s easy enough to do when the penalties don’t hit my own bank account. PS4RS is spinning lots of wheels — I read that only about 20 alumni showed up for Saturday’s open session — but they’re destined to be swatted like an annoying mosquito. BigAl is right. They’re working like a corporate board of directors — the little stockholders don’t mean shit.
Penn State absolutely can’t stand to lose federal funding or state funding (that which they haven’t already lost). Furthermore, with public opinion on the side of whoever will deprive Penn State of its funds, the University cannot fight. The next time Corbett reduces the commonwealth’s financial support, any protest will be met with the Sandusky defense. “You harbored a child molester, and you want more money, already? Go to your room!”
As for George Mitchell being our chosen NCAA overseer, isn’t it cool that we get the guy who tried to bring down Major League Baseball? Craig Fitzgerald better not put any performance enhancing spinach juice in the weight room juice bar.
It is clear that the image consultant has done his job. On Twitter, Facebook, and the gopsusports.com football landing page this morning, there were tweets, twats, blurbs, and brags about the graduation rate and so forth, plus, the Blue Band sing-along collection will be missing “Sweet Caroline” because of the “touching me, touching you” line. (That’s kind of like banning Sesame Street because the Cookie Monster sound a lot like the Tickle Monster, and besides, there was Tickle-Me Elmo…)
I’ll make the assumption now that with the elimination of the Neil Diamond song, Emmert will detect Penn State’s sincerity and will immediately rescind all the sanctions.
Oops, we’ll have to change the alma mater, too. It speaks of children being touched, to wit:
OK, enough futile spinning of wheels. I’ve devoted far too many column inches to this stuff, which has no conceivable immediate resolution. I’ll continue to hope that someone will dig up some dirt on Corbett and the Second Mile connection, but now it is time for some football. This Turkey will now direct his laser focus toward the future.
The depth chart for the Ohio U. game was released this afternoon, and it is time to look at it.
I found it noteworthy that our opening opponent, Ohio University, is going to add a blue ribbon to their helmets for the game against PS as a show of support that they are with us on increasing child sexual abuse awareness.
Nice touch, however they are only going to do it for the one game-hope they change their mind and keep it for the season.
Also found it interesting that no other school has requested the addition of the ribbon to their helmet so far according to the NCAA (I guess they must give their approval on all visible adornments to the uni’s so a team doesn’t go adding “Hello Kitty” stickers to their lids just for the hell of it!).
Why am I not surprised at either of these items?
The Nittany Turkey says
Because you wouldn’t be surprised at anything at this juncture, not even emails from Rip Engle and Bob Higgins wishing us a good season?
I though Sweet Caroline was Pitt’s thing anyway. I guess they’ll keep playing it since pedophila is only a problem at Penn State (sarc)
The only thing we can do regarding the BOT is to elect 6 more alumni trustees like Lubrano and McCombie in the next 2 years. Peetz, Frazier, Eckel and the rest of the popular kids can ignore 2 or 3 dissenters, but 8 pricks could make things unpleasant for them.
BTW Review of State’s F/S showed that State was lending out its investment securities to a custodian, receiving collateral back, and then reinvesting the collateral. This scheme (aka rehypothecation) was at the heart of the MF Global clusterfuck.
It’s hard to imagine how this scheme makes money for anyone except the custodian (who gets generous fees) and State’s F/S are so opaque you can’t tell whether they made or lost money on it. But I’d bet the ranch that State’s custodian was Peetz’s employer, BONY.
The Nittany Turkey says
How typical is the re-hypothecation investment scheme in state universities? That would be an interesting bit of research.
Do you really think that Peetz would subject herself to that sort of conflict of interest by selecting BNY-Mellon as the investment fund custodian? More interesting research there!
Next thing you know, Mankato State’s band will stop playing the Theme from Debbie Does Dallas. Damn!
I looked at 5 state school’s F/S. 3 (PSU, Michigan State, Pitt) used the scheme: 2 (Ohio State and Temple) did not (or at least they didn’t report using it.)
I doubt that Peetz left a paper trail showing her involvment. Penn State’s CFO probably “selected” the custodian (based on who’s advice we’ll never know ) and the BOT’s Finance and Business committee approved it. Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, State Street, and BONY are the primary custodians, so State’s custodian was almost certainly one of those 4.
The Nittany Turkey says
So, at least it is not another red flag for PSU, in that others are doing it.
Wouldn’t it be something that a proper board of trustees chairperson have steered away from, even if the CFO actually pulled the trigger on the BNY-Mellon deal? She was a mere trustee back then, so perhaps she thought it would go unnoticed by the ever-salivating media.
On the other hand, PSU gets a lot of support from the Mellon Foundation, and perhaps that mitigates the selection of the bank Tommy Mellon founded, even though it has gone through convolutions and acquisitions since back then.