Even if the Penn State board of trustees eventually ratified the penalties handed down by the NCAA against the Nittany Lion football football program, some members have made it no secret they disagreed -- and disagreed strongly -- with Mark Emmert and his organization's decision to bypass the usual NCAA investigative process and skip right to the harshest sanctions handed down since the SMU death penalty.
None of that changed Saturday, when PSU trustee Joel Myers blasted the NCAA at a board "team-building" retreat.
"[The NCAA] is a petulant child gone wild. The NCAA, in my view, has lost its moral compass," Myers was quoted as saying in the Patriot-News. "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."
Myers also attacked what he saw as the hypocrisy of the NCAA making an example out of Penn State for its focus on academics over athletics, while allowing other schools to shirk their academic duty.
"Why is it that the NCAA, which includes among its members universities and colleges that 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's Penn State that graduates 88 percent of its football players?" he asked.
Among the NCAA actions Myers took issue with were its threat of a long-term death penalty, its vacating of victories dating back to 1998, and its approval of what Myers termed the "theft" of players from the current Penn State roster. Myers' remarks were reportedly greeted with a standing ovation by the handful of alumni in attendance.
But Myers was noncommittal about what action the school should take to "stand up against this," and not every board member was nearly as confrontational.
"It's time for this board and this university to stop looking back and start looking ahead," said trustee Keith Eckel, echoing the comments of board Chairwoman Karen Peetz, who said "we must not — and will not — waver in accepting reality and responsibility."
But trustee Anthony Lubrano endorsed Myers' comments and position.
"This is a family at Penn State. This is not a corporation ... This is a group of people that is hurting very deeply from what's happened, and for us to just blindly say, 'We're moving forward,' without finding that bridge to the past ... we are destined to fail," Lubrano said.
But finding that bridge is much easier said than done when the board seems so cleanly divided over whether it wants to make the effort towards finding such a bridge at all. The NCAA's decision was always going to have far more fallout than simply punishing the football team--and it's becoming clear that part of that fallout are some deep divisions among the university's leadership and community over how to find a (potentially impossible) balance between their natural anger and a clean move forward.
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