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Penn State Trustees to Meet over NCAA Penalties

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State’s board of trustees will meet this weekend to consider whether to ratify a consent decree with the NCAA that imposed penalties for how the university handled the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Board chairwoman Karen Peetz told fellow trustees Thursday in an email, which was obtained by The Associated Press, that said there was confusion about how Penn State accepted the sanctions and whether it was the “best course” for the university.

“We have heard from President (Rodney) Erickson and from our legal team,” Peetz wrote. “We have had an opportunity to speak our minds. I appreciate everyone’s candor and your sincere and heartfelt comments. However, it is now time to put this matter to rest and to move on.”

The resolution before the board would say that it “wishes to and hereby does ratify” the consent decree.

“We are leaders of this university,” Peetz told the trustees. “We need to lead.”

A notice posted on Penn State’s website said the 5 p.m. Sunday telephone conference would be broadcast live online.

The NCAA on July 23 barred the school from postseason play for four years, fined it $60 million and invalidated 112 of the football team’s wins for the way school officials handled abuse complaints against Sandusky, a retired assistant football coach who was convicted in June of 45 child sexual abuse counts.

Penn State also was stripped of future scholarships, and several high-profile players have decided to transfer to other schools since the penalties were announced. The team opens play at home Sept. 1 against Ohio University.

The NCAA concluded Penn State suffered “an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity leading to a culture in which a football program was held in higher esteem” than its own values, those of the NCAA and higher education, “and most disturbingly the values of human decency.”

Penn State acquiesced to the penalties, with Erickson signing the agreement. Two days later, the trustees met in secret before issuing a statement that called the sanctions difficult but the alternatives worse.

Some trustees, alumni and others have reacted angrily. The family of former football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, and a trustee who said others supported him have sought to appeal the NCAA’s decision, but the organization has said the decision is not subject to appeals.

The current coach, Bill O’Brien, told reporters Thursday his focus was on leading the team, and he steered clear of second-guessing potential appeals.

“I respect everybody’s individual decision to do what they have to do, what they think is right,” O’Brien said. “That is their individual opinion or their group’s opinion, and I respect that. I would never step into the middle of that. That’s not what I want to do. I’m here to be the football coach.”

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