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Penn State Asks Court To Order Sale Of Beta Theta Pi House

Penn State has filed a lawsuit asking the court to order Beta Theta Pi’s alumni board to sell the on-campus fraternity house to the university, according to an Associated Press report.

The national fraternity closed its Alpha Upsilon chapter at Penn State and the university revoked its recognition in February 2017 following the death of student Tim Piazza in a hazing incident at the house.

The lawsuit cites a 1928 deed, which transferred the property to Beta Theta Pi, that gives the university the right to force a sale of the property, located at 220 N. Burrowes St. on the west side of campus, if it was no longer used as a fraternity house.

Penn State filed in the complaint that it had already attempted to buy back the property — putting an offer on the table in August, which was rejected, and holding a meeting in September between the two sides that was left at an impasse.

The university wants an arbitrator to determine the price of the property for the sale.

Former Beta Theta Pi brothers were ordered to vacate the house about a month after Piazza’s death once the university had revoked the fraternity’s recognition.

The house hasn’t always been empty since the former brothers left. Alumni were invited to stay in the house during 2017 football weekends. The Centre County Code Agency cited the fraternity for operating without proper permits. The Piazza family told CBS news last year that the use of the house felt like the alumni were dancing on their son’s grave.

“With Beta forever banned from Penn State, this structure rightfully belongs in the hands of Penn State to put it to a proper educational use which advances the purposes of the university,” Tom Kline, the Piazzas lawyer, told the AP.

Beta Theta Pi alumnus Don Abbey, who renovated the house in the mid-2000s, also filed a lawsuit against the chapter for the $8.5 million in repairs, renovations, and operations of the house. He says the improvements were a loan to the chapter. 

As noted by StateCollege.com, the university filed a similar suit to regain control of another fraternity property about 10 years ago. Following the suspension of Phi Delta Theta, the court ordered that its house, which was right down the road from Beta Theta Pi at 240 N. Burrowes St., would be sold to Penn State because the property’s 1905 deed stipulated the university had the right to buy it if it ceased to be a fraternity.

The university eventually acquired it for $1.5 million in 2010 and demolished the house later that year.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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