Trustee Joel Myers Sounds Off at the NCAA
As part of their weekend retreat, the Board of Trustees held a public meeting Saturday evening, but not without some emotion.
Following roll call — during which President Rodney Erickson and Governor Tom Corbett were noticeably absent — Chairwoman Karen Peetz began with her traditional opening remarks.
“We know that Penn State is a special place. It is a place where students with ability and potential have their lives transformed,” Chairwoman Peetz said. “We move forward on confidence in who we are, and what we can become.”
The theme of the evening — at least for most of the trustees — was “moving forward” from the past 10 months. Indeed, those two words were mentioned the most throughout the meeting, which has been a resounding theme by the Penn State administration since the NCAA sanctions were levied.
“These coming months will bring…stiff challenges, testing us all. Testing, whether or not we are, in fact, Penn State,” Chairwoman Peetz said. “There are some with differing opinions, some who say ‘fight back.’ Let me be clear: We must not — and will not — waiver in accepting reality and responsibility…We must move forward with urgency.”
University counsel Steve Dunham was next to speak, and he gave a presentation on how the Board would look to implement the 119 recommendations laid forward in the Freeh report. Of note, Dunham and Peetz addressed the NCAA consent agreement, which says that Penn State must implement ALL of the recommendations laid forward in the report. Arguments have been made that instituting all 119 recommendations is impractical, and — considering Louis Freeh has no background in academia — unproductive. Peetz said that Penn State has been in contact with the NCAA, and they have granted some “leeway” in how the recommendations are addressed.
Several advisory committees were also formed to help move forward with Freeh’s recommendations, including the “Advisory Council” which is made up of two students and a representative from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), among others.
The excitement came during the final minutes of the meeting, when — to the raucous applause of several dozen observers — veteran alumni Trustee Joel Myers delivered a powerful statement against the NCAA sanctions.
“Penn State was a great University in November, and it is today. Penn State was a great University before the Freeh report, and it is today,” Myers said. “These sanctions are a blight on the NCAA and the institutions that make it up.”
Myers has been one of the more outspoken members of the board in recent months against the NCAA, and his statement emphasized that role. The WPSU live stream of the meeting cut out at 4 p.m. — right in the middle of Myers’ remarks. Conveniently, 4 p.m. was also the time when President Erickson walked into the room.
“These penalties hurt the Nittany Nation without benefitting anyone…The NCAA has lost their moral compass. We [can't] stand down,” Myers continued. ”I’m tired of being told we need to put practicality before principle…Are these the tactics, and lack of clarity and candor that the NCAA stands for…lies, intimidation?”
“We need to stand up against this. Not stand down. The NCAA says we put athletics before academics. The opposite is true…The NCAA is no longer worthy to be a representative of higher education,” Trustee Myers concluded.
Myers received a standing ovation from the public for his remarks but not much reaction from board members themselves. Trustee Keith Eckel spoke out against Myers, and said that although he finds the sanctions to be unjust, “We need to move forward…many times, we have to live with unfairness.”
Following the meeting, the Board broke off into committee meetings. A full public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m.