Ryan J. McCombie is a Member of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees. He was elected by the Alumni to serve and his term expires in 2015. He is a former Navy Seal.

06 August 2012

Dear fellow board members

The challenges we have dealt with over the past year have been the most difficult and demanding that any Board of a Public University has ever faced. The issues are incredibly painful and highly contentious and the path that we should follow is anything but clear. Nonetheless, it is our mission to determine what happened without favor or bias toward the responsible parties, just as it is our duty as trustees to act in the best interests of Penn State. I do not believe the recent actions of the Administration and the NCAA have been consistent with that mission, and I cannot but feel that our inaction is a failure in our duty. I believe we owe to all involved – especially our University community – to insist on and require full due process before we accept these penalties.

Due process is not a theoretical concept to me. It is one of the core values that I fought for as a Navy Seal and as a 26-year veteran of the US Navy. I spent much of my adult life in 3rd world countries ruled by tyrannical dictators. Little did I know upon retiring from this exciting yet stressful vocation to bucolic Central PA, that I would become embroiled in a comparable experience here.

I respect Louis Freeh and I appreciate the work he and his staff did to investigate the handling of the Sandusky matter. At the same time, I think it is important to recognize that the Freeh report is not the equivalent of a legal hearing or review. No one testified under oath; multiple key witnesses were not interviewed; accused parties were not given a fair chance to respond; the findings were highly subjective; and several individuals are still waiting to have their day in court. Yet despite these very serious limitations and others, our Board allowed the Freeh report to be presented as a full and fair review, which it most certainly is not; and we stood by passively while the University accepted an unprecedented penalty from the NCAA, based entirely on the findings of the Freeh report. These are grave mistakes that inflict undue harm on the entire Penn State community, in addition to compromising the rights of numerous individuals.

The argument that is given on all of these issues is that we must do whatever we can to serve the victims and act in a way that eliminates the chance that something like this can ever happen again. I support that end and understand the sentiment behind it, but also know that we owe it to our University and the constituencies we represent to demand due process in this matter. Our desire for speed and decisiveness cannot and must not justify actions that clearly and decisively compromise the future of this institution, unfairly tarnish its reputation and violate the rights of accused individuals. If in the rush to put this crisis behind us, we act in a way that limits the discovery of the full truth or unfairly blames certain individuals, while exempting others who rightfully deserve blame, we will have completely failed on the most important task this Board will ever have.

It is for these reasons that I have decided to file an appeal today with the NCAA seeking a full due process hearing. Additionally, I will be, along with others, seeking to determine whether President Erickson had the authority to enter into the consent decree absent Board approval. It is my belief that this matter did require board approval and that we should engage in a full, and complete, review. In the end, we all benefit from having this matter handled correctly and with full regard for due process – only then can we be truly confident in the result and the actions we take as a board. Furthermore, only after we have given all involved the opportunity to be heard can we move forward together as one University.

It is my sincere hope that some or all of you will join me on this path. If you wish to join in my appeal, please contact my attorney, Paul Kelly, at (617) 305-1263, or by email paul.kelly@jacksonlewis.com.

Let me also be clear: I do not do this seeking a predetermined result nor do I claim to know what the final answers will be. If there is blame to be borne by any or all of our officials, a due process hearing will not hide that fact and I will accept it – as will the tens of thousands of Penn Staters out there not assuaged by a limited process.

I know my actions will be poorly received by some on this board and in the community at large. To that end it would be easier to remain silent and allow these unfair actions to remain unchallenged. I cannot do this. As long as I am a member of this board, I will fight to learn the full truth of the Sandusky scandal and then, and only then, endorse the assignment of blame and the imposition of sanctions.

For the Glory,

Ryan J. McCombie

59 thoughts on “Ryan McCombie’s Appeal to the Board of Trustees

  1. extraordinary…. cannot thank Ryan enough for leading the charge… we are so lucky to have him and Anthony there…


  2. Great letter. Thank you Ryan, someone has to stand up for Penn State and I am glad you are. I too, will accept the outcome of due process- a full, impartial investigation- not rolling over and playing dead. The majority of us as children, were taught fairness, to do the right thing and be responsible. That’s all I ask- and as you say, the outcome may not be what i want it to be, but I will accept it if it is fair, etc. BTW- I am not a PSU alum- just a fan/supporter and a ‘full- out of state’ tuition paying paying parent. My child LOVES PSU and this has hurt him. He is worried if he will be able to get a job after he graduates. (He is a Dean list/Sapphire (Smeal) student). I am so happy he is at Penn State- but I am also stunned but the lack of leadership and the rolling over of this Bof T. Please- fight the go fight and don’t let up Ryan. Thank you.


  3. I would like say thank you to PSU Board member Ryan J McCombie. As a PSU Alumnus, I am finally happy to see a person in a leadership roll at PSU stand up for our University. This is why I voted for you in the past election. And although some Board Members may receive this news poorly, I 100% endorse your efforts.


  4. Thank you shipmate for your extraordinary service and your current leadership in this fight against injustice. Please let me know if you are setting up a legal fund.


  5. Finally… someone with a brain and a backbone!

    Kudos to Captain McCombie, and to those who rally to support his position!

    Due process is more then a theory it is a right, whether guilty or innocent, and so too is the fiduciary duty owed by all trustees to the students, taxpayers, and alumni. The gross incompetence by university officers and particularly the board of trustees surrounding this entire fiasco has been, and continues to be, amazing.

    Due process is fundamental, in many ways a uniquely American tradition, and a key foundational basis of our society and constitution. As an institution of scholarship, we expected Penn State would not only understand and appreciate the rights of due process, but also teach, respect and embody the rule of law… how could we have been so wrong?

    Yet, to this point the actions of the university have been driven by fear, ignorance and the weakness of PSU leaders and the board. They seem so blindly ignorant as to not even know what due process is. I am amazed they continue to lead an institution of scholarship and knowledge, when they lack the courage and honor to fulfill their duties.

    If the NCAA fails again, then thanks god we have independent courts in this country!

    Kudos to Captain McCombie, and to those who rally to support his position!


  6. Dear Ryan,
    I do not know you, but am mightily impressed by your letter and for your willingness to stand up to a tide of events that has been overwhelming. Of course, it would take a Navy Seal to do so! Please know that there are many of us who have been waiting for a member of the Board of Trustees to have the intestinal fortitude to speak out and act. We are with you in spirit, and there are many of us, including me, who are willing to expend time effort and money to fight the NCAA and the members of the Administration and Board of Trustees who continue to cower and capitulate in the hope that this will somehow make things better. I fully share your sentiment that we do not yet know the full truth, and that one possibility is that it will be as bad as the many assumptions that have been made to this point. But to “rush to judgment” (a phrase that I am merely parroting from some very articulate criticisms of the Freeh report conclusions when the facts upon which they are based are closely analyzed) is not fair to anyone involved. Again, thank your for your courage and willingness to take a stand.


  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you Ryan. Penn State alumni everywhere stand with you. We cannot sit by idle and accept one wrong supposedly righted by another one. It is unacceptable to forgo due process for all those players who played the games now vacated, the coaches who coached them, and, of course, Joe Paterno, a man who gave 60 years to this University.
    Many stand ready to support you.

    Keith Grimm, ’92 LIR
    Tualatin, OR


  8. Thank you Sir. Know that you have the support of many alumni. We need to follow the truth, no matter where it leads, in order for Penn State to learn and improve from this horrible chain of events. I believe we heard the truth about Sandusky’s crimes. With your help, perhaps we can finally hear the truth about how the actions or inaction of our leadership, including the Board of Trustees and the NCAA, contributed to this tragedy. We need to stay focused. This isn’t about football or the NCAA, or any one person. It is about uncovering the truth and doing what is right. You are correct that we may not like where this effort ultimately ends up, but we owe it to the victims, the students and the Penn State family to learn from what happened, and make sure it does not happen again.


  9. Dear Ryan,
    As a 65 year old alumni, the thought that I may never see another Penn State bowl game in my lifetime is quite depressing. While no one can condone child abuse, the harsh punishment dolled out by the NCAA was just a knee jerk reaction to the Freeh Report. Look at the student athletes, past, present and future that are being punished for something they had no part in. The truth good or bad needs to come out. I deeply respect your action and your willingness to do something about our inept leadership.


  10. Ryan – With the reading of your letter, I felt a sigh of relief! Finally, a courageous man with the power to take action to achieve a thorough and honest investigation of the PSU scandal, takes a stand! Due process is essential in this case; denial of due process only adds to the “cover-up” nature of the scandal! It is unfair to Penn State to have the B of T accept the penalties without question, just to get on with it. To do so does not really bring justice and healing in the way open and honest presentation of the facts will do. It takes time and wisdom for truth to reveal itself in a thorough investigation. When as much of the truth is known as can be validated, penalties should be levied where they can be effective, not just out of an impulsive wish to “hurt back” at Penn State. Thank you, Ryan McCombie! For everyone who writes a comment, I’m sure there are many others who are silently applauding your integrity and willingness to put yourself on the line for what’s right.


  11. Ryan, a thousand thanks for your courageous stance and efforts. As other commenters above have noted, this goes beyond a football program, a few bowl games, and even Joe Paterno. The actions (or should I say inactions) of the BOT and the unconscionable NCAA sanctions appear to be an attempt to destroy Penn State. I will not sit idly by while the University I love is destoyed. I too understand that I may not like the results of a full and fair investigation, but believe such is the only way to learn the truth. I am glad one of the newly elected trustees is performing his fiduciary duty – to do what is best for the University – and wholeheartedly support your effort.


  12. So we now have 4 board members who deserve their seat, and only 4. Ryan and the other 3 that have joined his appeal. Yet another reason why the rest of the board should resign. How many reasons do we possibly need for these people to leave?

    There is no reason we can’t fight the good fight for the truth and due process, for the victims and for Penn State all at the same time. Maybe we now have some of the leadership to do that.

    God bless the victims. God bless Penn State Nation.


    1. Actually, Tony, we don’t yet know how many Trustees will support Ryan’s initiative. There is still a good deal of lobbying going on. Let’s hope several more see the light. At least, we will have everyone on record as being for or against due process. Interesting.


  13. Mr. McCombie,

    Like the others on this page, I applaud you for taking a stand for PSU. There is no doubt that entirely too much “swift justice,” overly emotional decision-making, horrific crisis management and poorly informed policy has taken place on ALL sides of the issue since this story broke for real last November. That said, I will tell you my heart sank a bit when I read today that the BoT, or at least part of it, was considering a formal, public appeal and/or lawsuit against the NCAA. Why? Because I am sick and tired of being front-page news, hearing/seeing PSU institutionally dragged through the mud and witnessing a Chinese water torture of negative reports seemingly daily. Frankly, it’s time to get OUT of the damned news, not back into it. And, no matter what we think (and, let me hasten to add that I COMPLETELY agree with your position that the NCAA was wildly out of control on this and that the PSU administration rolled over like a trained Labrador retriever), the fact is that much of the rest of the country (read: Penn State/Paterno haters) perceives us as (at least) deserving of all the punishment we received and then some, or (at worst) a bunch of insensitive, pedophile-loving crybabies if we even peep about the NCAA, Louis Freeh, the media or anybody else being unfair to us.

    In other words, damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Which I imagine is just the position from which you are coming with all this. Might as well do something, right? I mean, we did nothing, and look where we are. I ask only that you and the core group leading this charge carefully consider every single word you speak, write or even think going forward. There is a heavy bias on this matter outside the 814 area code, and this will absolutely be (already has, actually) cast as desperate, misguided, futile and indicative that “those Penn State people still just don’t get it.”

    Do we really want to poke Mark Emmert in the eye? (I know I do!) Here’s how: pack Beaver Stadium with 108,000 fannies every single Saturday. Fill College Avenue on game day. Wear your blue and white proudly. Buy a beer for a visiting fan, wish them luck (but not too much) and thank them for coming. Scream louder than ever for our team for three-and-a-half straight hours. Pack the bars after the game and celebrate your alma mater. Then watch the team go 12-0 for 4 straight seasons while doing what they’ve always done…graduate record numbers of players who achieve the highest team GPAs in Division I, while tossing in a few Academic All-Americans to boot.

    Then in 2017, let’s ask Mr. Emmert just exactly what he meant when he accused us of a “football first” mentality.

    For the glory,

    Dan Regan
    Class of ’83


    1. Yes Dan…let’s roll over because they want us to. And you are dreaming if you think we are going to have winning seasons when we have a coach that doesn’t understand our traditions or just doesn’t care. I suppose you want the flash uniforms and names on our jersies too. That is the start of a real football culture! If you bleed blue and white you don’t surrender because you are tired of the fight. I will fall in beside Ryan and count myself a Lion, not a rag doll kitten.


      1. Very well-said Dave Geiss. For the life of me I cannot fathom true Nittany Lions tucking their tails between their legs like the BOT, Erickson, O’Brien keep urging us to do rather than stand proud and strong and say we will ‘move on”‘ when the truth is out, the statute is back where it belongs and Emmert is reminded that in the United States of America there are no DICtators allowed (emphasis added and intended). WE ARE (because He was) PENN STATE!!


        1. Wow – the Paterno iconagraphy and “How dare they mess with my football Saturday” mentaility is quite interesting! The previous regime should have kept this in mind (how important your football is to you) before they risked blowing it all up. Which, in the end, they did! Enjoy the next four years “true” Nittany Lions…


          1. You don’t get it. This is not about football. This is about justice. This is about standing up to tyrants like Emmeret and George III. We should not have backed down to his threats and quoted Patrick Henry to him…I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! We should have called his bluff because that’s all he had.


            1. Correct Dave – we live in a society of tyrants and it’s sheer anarchy and we should fight to the death over this!! Yikes!! BTW – did you see where Ryan has now asked his counsel to back off on the threat of appeal to the NCAA – hmm……


  14. Finally, some action being taken against the tyrant NCAA. The media again acted with strong opinions with bias slanted information. They stirred the people of this country into a mob mentality of just burn them, hang them and crucify them. Unfortunately, the mob did not take the time nor make the effort to wait until all the facts were exposed. Thank you Ryan for showing the courage and action to finally get the whole truth of these tragic events exposed.

    My thoughts have been and will remain until proven wrong, there is a very foul odor in the information we now have been given. The cover up is deep and will not easily be exposed.

    Best of luck to all involved.


  15. I applaud Mr. McCombie’s efforts and agree with his letter except for one point. The narrative needs to change regarding Louis Freeh. He does not deserve respect, and there should be no appreciation for how he handled the investigation. In fact, I see it as the opposite. He is a paid shill (PS4RS has already pointed out the case of Mr. Bin Hammam), whose conclusions were clearly crafted prior to uncovering evidence, and his report does little to help find the truth for the victims. Freeh’s report has actually caused the cessation of fact finding, since the public believes that “evil at PSU” allowed Sandusky to committ heinous acts for many years. While I understand Mr. McCombie’s need to be diplomatic, PSU administration needs to start discrediting Freeh and his dubious findings.


    1. So right! Just check out Freeh’s litany of failures on his wikipedia page. Whoever hired him should have seen this coming.


  16. Ryan,

    Your action is consistent with what Col. Larry Donnithorne calls “the harder right” in the West Point Way of Leadership. It means doing what is right even if it is unpopular with peers and the public. If the other Trustees had followed the harder right on Nov. 9, I do not think Penn State will be in the trouble it is in today.


  17. Thank you, Mr. McCombie. You want what we all want and need – the truth. Anyone who says “Penn Staters don’t get it” are massively uninformed. Your efforts are very much appreciated.


  18. I understand that the board plans to meet on Sundays to ratify the sanctions. If this happens we need to make sure we work hard to replace any traitor who votes for ratification including the Governor.


    1. Not to worry. We are all prepared to do everything we can for as long as it takes to make sure that everyone of the traitors from 11/9/11 are removed from their positions. I may not live in PA but I would say Corbutt’s chances of re-election are next to nil.


  19. Dear Mr. McCombie;
    I cannot thank you enough for your statement. I have found it increasingly difficult to control my anger regarding this entire fiasco and I am completely amazed that the situation has continued to spiral out of control. The TRUTH and the FACTS must be revealed, no matter the cost or the further pain involved – it is impossible for all of us to move forward otherwise.

    Someone in a position of authority at Penn State MUST take a stand now and speak for all of us who are aware of the complete mishandling of information/facts surrounding the actual events. I cannot remain quiet any longer while throngs of uniformed people continue to misrepresent my University or while the BOT/President continue to allow a complete dismantling of our reputation based upon the unbelievably flawed Freeh Report.

    I can only image the pressure you are under to ‘conform’ to what other BOT members have already publically stated but please, I implore you to continue to push for the truth.

    ’88 (BS) and ’92 (MS)


  20. Why Capt. McCombie is right, reject the sanctions.

    The NCAA’s toughest sanctions ever imposed should not be levied against Penn State. They are based on a contract report not subject to the safeguard features of our legal system or to the rigors of a college report for correctness or accuracy. The profound nature of the sanctions are so egregious that the Board of Trustees would be negligent in their duties to protect the University and its constituent members and parts as is its primary duty.

    Mr. Emmert actions are arbitrary and capricious. He has not in the least proved or justified why Penn State should be ‘punished’ beyond riding the crest of an emotional media frenzy over child abuse. There is no correlation between the accused and the punished. Simply relying on the Freeh report with subjective labels without the accused being able to face their accuser is beyond the American sense of fairness. Punishing student athletes past, present and future for something they did not do, did not observe and did not gain any advantage from is preposterous. This action does not fit the mission of the NCAA. Furthermore, how does Mr. Emmert qualify as the arbiter for cause and effect with the excessive punishment he has unloaded on Penn State. This while his alma mater (Syracuse) suffers no repercussions from a similar situation and was free to participate in the NCAA basketball playoffs.

    Football culture, what does that mean and why is there a negative connotation implied with the successful football program at Penn State?

    Has Penn State’s football program diminished other sports at Penn State? No, I understand that revenues from football have supported a wide range of other sports at Penn State.

    Has Penn State’s football program diminished academic availability or standards at Penn State?
    No, when I was at Penn State in the 60’s the number of students at all Penn State campuses totalled about fifty thousand. Today that number is about ninety thousand with almost all of the growth away from the University Park and away from football. In the same period, also concurrent with Joe Paterno’s tenure as head coach, Penn State’s academic recognition has blossomed in many fields across the University other than football. I find it difficult to understand how success in football has diminished or interfered with growth of the University, it’s mission in teaching, in research or any other aspect.

    There have been many comments made about this situation articulated far better than I could have done. But there is one question that I have not seen addressed and I think is may have some bearing on this case.

    When Joe Paterno was relieved of his duties as head coach, Tom Bradley was named as the interim head coach. The Board of Trustees or the University made the point that the position was too important to make Bradley the head coach without conducting a nation wide search. When Graham Spannier resigned his position as President of the University, Rodney Erickson was named interim President of the University. In less than one week Mr. Erickson’s position was made permanent. The reason given was that it was too important in these times to have an ‘interim’ President run the University. But Mr. Erickson was the Executive Vice President and Provost. According to Erickson’s own resumé he was responsible for student welfare and served as chief executive officer in the President’s absence and was centrally involved in most operations of the University. Mr. Erickson’s tenure as Provost stated in 1999.

    How did the Executive V P and Provost for the full time period of the alleged cover-up miss being scrutinized? If he did all his resumé implies , how could he not know something about this case. If he did not know anything about this case after being the Executive V P and Provost for thirteen years, should he be the President to lead us out of this crises?

    Another issue that may exist regarding Erickson and the (November 9th) Board of Trustees is a perceived bias against athletics. C Jay Hertzog while putting forth his name for the Board of Trustees said that he believed Penn State can have excellence in teaching, research, service to the community and athletics. Upon assuming the Presidency, Rodney Erickson said he wanted to make Penn State an outstanding research institution. ESPN reported that Joe Paterno renegotiated his contract in the summer of 2011 with a hefty payout when he steps down. Paternos tenure seemed not under the control of the Board of Trustees. Now here is the issue.

    The Board of Trustees wasted very little time in disposing of Joe Paterno after the Sandusky indictment was made public. It appeared from my point of view that they could not waste the opportunity to eliminate their nemesis. There appears to have been little concern for what guilt their actions would imply and project on the athletic department in general or football specifically with their rush to judgement and sentence.

    If one were to believe that Universities could have interdepartmental inferiority complexes, one may surmise that rolling over and letting the NCAA stomp on the football program was a gift from heaven. Only now with football on its death bed will the rest of the University be recognized as a true center of higher education. The rush to accept the set of sanctions by the NCAA supports the theory that reducing the vitality of the Penn State football program is not poison to all at Penn State.

    I believe like Hertzog that Penn State can have excellence in academics, teaching and research, in service to the community, local, state and worldwide, and in athletics, for student athletes and fans of the athletes. There are not many places that over a hundred thousand people gather six or seven times a year to watch a game win or lose, enjoy friends and take a break from the all too serious parts of life. Penn State has achieved an envious period of growth. Success in academics, success in sports with high visibility. Crushing this success will not rectify Sandusky’s treatment of ten boys.

    Sandusky is now only projected as an absolute evil monster. Curley, Schultz, Spannier and Paterno are projected as fostering Sandusky’s deviant behavior. What has been forgotten is that Sandusky was a charming, engaging teacher, coach and promoter. The son of a close friend attended one of Jerry Sandusky’s football camps while in high school. He could only say how wonderful the experience was and how much better he was as a football player. The Second Mile was a grand experience for countless number of youths. This, not to mention the celebrities that signed on as sponsors or attend fund raising events. Sandusky was a successful people person. A lot of people were fooled. It took the Governor of Pennsylvania three years while he was the Attorney General to find enough evidence to prosecute Sandusky. Normally in cases of child abuse prosecutors do not wait for Grand Juries to be convened before they take steps to isolate the abuser.

    There is no e-mail evidence that shows that Paterno knew the 1998 investigation of Sandusky was specifically sexual in nature. That was a jump Freeh has made in hindsight. There are other issues that could have triggered an investigation of Sandusky including truancy or the use of drugs or alcohol. Paterno was negotiating with Sandusky about his future on the staff. Certainly Paterno would want to know the outcome of the investigation. Once the prosecutor cleared Sandusky what is the issue that had to be remembered.

    The matter with McQueary turns out to be another non-issue. Sandusky was cleared of all counts relating to the 2001 incident in the shower. How could Paterno et. el. be guilty of acting or not acting if they came up with the same conclusion that the jury did at the Sandusky’s trial. The jury acquitted Sandusky of all counts related to the 2001 shower incident.

    These are the reason I believe that Capt. McCombie is right to reject the NCAA sanctions. Attempting to find the truth is far better than accepting poorly obtained and reasoned emotionally charged conclusions. What are we teaching our students? It is the Board of Trustee’s duty to have enough self respect to demand fair treatment and due process.


  21. I am a Pitt football scholarship Alumnus. I, with all Pennsylvania citizens, have a huge stake in all of this. I posted this on the Facebook Penn Stater magazine: “All who know me know I’m an expert in this area & I’m dead ass honest. The Penn State result is the worst, most inequitable result I have witnessed in my 45 years in sports. So help me God.” No one has challenged any part of that statement.

    The last Penn State player I had involvement with was as an expert witness-OJ McDuffie. I was the only expert for him.. He received a 11 Million dollar judgment plus interest, fees, etc. My standard fee is $30,000 paid when retained. As an attorney, agent, and former NFL player, I know the dirt of what goes on in college football-the fraud of NCAA Amateurism-and know how the Penn State program stood above all others in being clean.

    I don’t need nor want this fight. I don’t have to work and don’t want paid. I have made my wife miserable because I can’t get over this-the hypocrisy of it all. I literally lose sleep. I’ve been begging Penn State to fight. If I find a way to have standing, I’ll sue or act as expert here in Western District of Pa-away from the smell that is going on in the Eastern part of the state. You have your best examples of what Joe produced here in former Steelers. They remained active with the Penn State program. They can testify about it.

    But for standing, I would have filed an injunction at the start to prevent the loss that has occurred. Jonathan Vilma in the NFL Bounty Gate case is holding the NFL at bay, and may win. Experts thought it was a sure loser. He filed an injunction in New Orleans. Precedent and the law may be against him but not the equities of what happened. The authority of the Commissioner of the NFL comes under a much tougher agreement than the NCAA. There is no case more deserving of an impartial third party reviewing all than this one.

    It is not too late. Damages after you stop the them. A thorough review of who knew what and when. Were they qualified to judge, to rule, or were they compromised? What were their conversations about Joe? A hundred more questions-but under oath and with subpoena power to obtain their documents. They can’t let you get that far. They have far too much to cover up.

    I don’t accept anyone throwing the pedophile argument in my face and you shouldn’t either. I’m sensitive to what happened but I had no part nor did you.

    Follow your former Navy Seal, your former wrestling coach-folks who are not afraid to fight. The NCAA is not clean and in my opinion, not moral. Get into their records, their files. Move the people of academia out of the way. They are not qualified. Know this also:This is a street fight. You play rough within the rules. You will win. All of Pennsylvania will win.


    1. I am a dual alum – PSU ’80 and Pitt ’72. I’ve never been prouder to be an alum of both schools than I am today. Mr. Cindrich is a man of high integrity and I thank my fellow alum for his support of Penn State.


      1. I blocked folks from Pa on social media accounts that don’t get it-can’t see it. Some even taking pleasure in it. Just to see Penn State and Pa citizens wanting to fight is enough to lift my spirits. You are very kind. Thank you.


    2. Thank you Mr. Cindrich. As a die-hard, lifelong PSU fan living in WVU Country I probably should be embarrassed/in pain just saying these words, LOL, but you are obviously a man oF intellect and integrity. Your willingness to speak out against this gross injustice is greatly appreciated. On the other hand it is also a painful reminder of how inept and pathetic the PSU BOT, president, et al, are if the Michigan, Ohio State and Pitt fans can see what needs to be done and encourage our groups to fight it yet they want to gratefully accept it and ‘move forward’.


      1. This is not an endorsement of actions but from my twitter account: “Say what you want about #Alabama fans-I have lots to say. NCAA does to it like #PennState there is smoke, rubble, & a plaque where it used to reside.


    3. This is very well said. Like Michelle, I live in WVU country, but am closer to PITT, but I support PSU and especially Joe Paterno and family in this fiasco. I hope when the bot meet tomorrow they take this letter and all the other letters and comments into consideration and either reject the sanctions or at the very least table the vote until all the evidence is in and is the truth, not just what someone made up.


  22. Ralph — I grew up in the shadow of the Cathedral of Learning and used to climb cardiac hill to sell mumms in order to pay for a ticket into old Pitt Stadium. Of course, THE game was always Pitt/Penn State. Just about half of my family went to Pitt (some as far back as Pop Warner!) and half went to Penn State ( with an odd Mountaineer thrown in.

    Like you I cherish the competitive spirit and mutual respect college athletes and their fans share. And like you I am appalled at the NCAA. Men in suits should never diminish the achievements that boys in uniforms earn on the field.

    I am proud to call you a brother. Your speaking out is a great testament to the quality of education and sportsmanship the University of Pittsburgh, at its best, represents. Allegennygnackgnack!

    Can’t wait for the rivalry to resume. Fight On State!


  23. Thank you. It is very much appreciated. The Penn State, Pitt nonsense is all so trivial now. I took down all but one Penn Stater Magazine posting on Facebook but kept them under my name. The passion to fight was not there.

    Emmert’s past at LSU needs to be reviewed. He and Saban were at LSU together, entering and leaving at the same time, and winning a National Championship. Both were the highest paid ever at their respective positions. You think Saban at LSU ran a program like Joe? At Alabama? If so, you don’t have a clue about big time major football, especially in the SEC. Agents can point out the dead bodies but are afraid to come forward because they have to cheat, to pay just like the NCAA coaches to get top prospects. It can be a felony in La. and Alabama for agents. I quit going after players a long time ago because of it.

    Major infractions are overlooked when it’s close to some schools and coaches. Auburn is livid because of the special consideration Alabama receives as the Crown Jewel of the NCAA and Emmert’s relationship with Saban.

    Emmert and others were looking to stick Penn State. They were not competent to judge, to levy such harsh penalties. Everyone wants to move on but not this way. This is a slow, cancer death.

    Competent, professional advisors don’t make the decisions of the Penn State leaders under the highly emotional circumstances that existed. And they don’t crap their pants. From Big Ben of the Steelers with the rape charges to the allegations of players in the NFL trying to cripple fellow players, time and the introduction of facts caused people to pause, to reason. This result come down too fast. Slow this process down.

    We, all of Penn State and all citizens of Pennsylvania, would own the NCAA if there were anything close to the Freeh report on them. As it is, a judge can order what is needed to win.

    The NCAA is not the law. These men aren’t trained in law and they are not neutral or clean. The only way to win is to attack. Penn State will always regret not attacking if it doesn’t do so now.


    1. This entire mess has been a public relations and reputation fiasco for Penn State… and the negligence continues.

      Cindrich is correct: “Competent, professional advisors don’t make the decisions of the Penn State leaders under the highly emotional circumstances that existed. And they don’t crap their pants… The NCAA is not the law. These men aren’t trained in law and they are not neutral or clean. The only way to win is to attack. Penn State will always regret not attacking if it doesn’t do so now.”

      How can any Trustee, with fiduciary duties, support capitulation to the NCAA’s illegal attacks and coercion? Respectfully they want to support Erickson; however someone has to accept ultimate responsibility for this terrible defeat. By whatever circumstances, Erickson accepted the job of being interim-president and he was the leader who consented to accept dishonor to avoid a confrontation with the NCAA. He was responsible and should be replaced.

      There cannot be true respect for a leader, if you do not hold him accountable for his failures… it seems the standard at Penn State is much higher for employee Joe Paterno, than it is for the head University officer Rodney Erickson.


  24. Ralph,
    I have heard very good things about you in the past from fellow lawyers who I know in Pittsburgh. Your willingness to take a stand is immensely appreciated. Your insights regarding the NCAA are shocking, but not surprising. As a litigation attorney who has tried over 100 cases and settled countless others on the “courthouse steps,” I can smell the foul odor of bluster and steamrolling a scared opponent into submission. I obviously wasn’t there, but it sure appears that the NCAA took a ridiculously unreasonable position, and when they weren’t met with strong opposition, continued to press it to the max. But as you have observed, it IS NOT TOO LATE.
    If the Board of Trustees ratifies this sham of a Consent Decree, the word treasonous comes to mind, although I don’t think that there are any state treason laws. One thing is absolutely clear at this point, ratifying the consent decree is a clear breach of fiduciary duty that is going to lead to huge consequences for those who vote to ratify. That is not a threat. It is reality.
    Hopefully, your efforts and those of Ryan McCombie and other BOT members, will result in a logical approach and vote this afternoon/evening.
    Thank you again for your insights.
    Jim Wood


    1. Thank you Jim. Kind. I’ve been fighting this publicly since the penalties came down. On radio,TV, twitter, facebook, and in a PBI seminar I chaired in Pittsburgh.

      I picked a fight with Alabama by design- knowing full well what would happen. I received the responses all said I would: Tons of threats. I contacted the US Attorney’s office, FBI, and DA’s office. All stopped but others are afraid to say anything because of intimidation by Alabama fans.. Imagine that in the US in 2012? I suppose it doesn’t come under Institutional control. I also said on radio when exasperated by this result that I had something on Saban-that everyone has something on Saban. No one but the fans challenged me.

      I don’t know if the link will come up but it is worth noting Nick Saban on Mark Emmert: “He is absolutely the best boss I’ve ever had.” Emmert when he hired Saban in another interview not in the link: “Simply put, success in LSU football is essential for the success of Louisiana State University.” http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2010/09/nick-saban-gives-endorsement-to-incoming-ncaa-president-mark-emmert/1#.UCewZJ2PWqh

      What does Alabama football have to do with any of this?

      When the Yankees in the Civil War marched to attack the capital of the South, Richmond, Va, Robert E. Lee circled around to attack Washington D.C. Game changer. The North’s troops promptly pulled back to protect Washington, D.C. Alabama football is a billion dollar business and too close to the NCAA.

      If you are not judging and treating all fairly, equally, you are not fit to judge. You must recuse yourself. The NCAA was not fit to judge-not fit to dish out this punishment. I firmly believe a court would recognize the gross injustice of this case.


  25. Okay Ralph,
    We are all interested in what you think is the appropriate action in light of the disgraceful but expected actions by the BOT at “the meeting” yesterday. I have intentionally waited close to 24 hours before writing anything so as to allow my emotions to cool. I think better that way, and from some of the posts I’ve read, I would recommend that some others try to do the same thing. It seems very clear at this juncture that although there are at least a few Trustees who realize that the farce that the Consent Decree represents and the far-reaching repercussions of that decree should lead to a reconsideration of ratification. But the majority “just don’t get it,” or worse, realize what it represents but are trying to cover their own butts by taking the appeasement approach. The most arrogant and appalling statements by some BOT members were condescending remarks to the effect that the anger of thousands of alumni, students, and many other interested persons is misplaced.
    I believe that there would be strong interest and support of multitudes of people for some sort of litigation. But I frankly must admit that I just don’t know where to begin. My experience as a medical malpractice defense attorney, although pretty extensive, doesn’t exactly equip me to propose novel ways to establish standing against the NCAA or BOT. However, I feel strongly, and so many others do as well, that there should be some way to stop this runaway train.
    Your comments would be very welcome.
    One further question. I assume from the above that you don’t have any immediate plans to travel to the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area.


    1. Jim-A little chuckle as to Alabama. Auburn fans know the favoritism of Emmert with Saban. They keep sending me stories.Thing is I’m not too welcome at Auburn either but I was retained by the school as an expert in a med mal case.

      I’m drained now but still frustrated and I’m like you in terms of emotional involvement. As you know, standing is the issue and it is not an easy one. I don’t have that answer yet.

      I’m going to watch the Marcus Dupree story again-one of the best HS players ever in the US out of Mississippi. He ended up going to the Sooners but his career got derailed. He’s a truck driver now. The ESPN story details what went on with him and recruiters. It’s pretty close to what I’ve seen with big time players. If I come up with something…..


  26. Ralph and readers,
    Please check this site: http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2012/07/oregon_state_beavers_a_qa_with.html
    This is an interview with Ed Ray, President of Oregon State, and head of the NCAA executive committee. The interview obviously occurred shortly after the consent decree was signed by President Erickson. Ray’s comments regarding whether the death penalty was considered or threatened sure seem inconsistent with what was represented to the BOT by Erickson and Attorney Gene Marsh on Sunday. Am I missing something?!!


    1. Jim, I don’t believe you are not missing anything except an explanation that needs filled in by the BOT. I had seen this yesterday and my initial reaction was Mr. Ray sounded like a decent guy but this is not what we all understood. The other reaction was it was not surprising that Emmert said Mr Ray (also from the Northwest) was hired because he was an “economist” and had business training. My thought: This is what it is all about in the NCAA-money.

      What was said here and what the Board related needs in my opinion to be reconciled.

      I can’t imagine how more facts could make our position worse but perhaps there was something more…..If there is more, surely the upcoming trials will flush it out. In any event, those mostly affected should be told all.

      As to legal recourse we previously discussed, there is law that suggests the football players have standing to sue. No one cares, understandably, about agents but there is a gross disparity between the penalties of agents committing violations and coaches. Both have the same school result for violations-probation and more. But for agents it’s a felony, and coaches may be barred from coaching for a bit. These laws were put in La. when Emmert and Saban were cohorts.

      The O’Bannon v NCAA is an anti-trust lawsuit filed by former NCAA players and it is still alive. We all get tired of hearing about lawsuits but discovery and court power may be the only way to know what these boys really knew and when. My feeling is they had knowledge of what occurred long before this past November and did nothing. I also believe there was no question of prejudice against Joe Paterno and Penn State from the start.


  27. I have’nt set foot on the PSU campus since the day I graduated in the middle of a snow storm in December 1969 but a piece of me is still PENN STATE and always will be. The shenanagins going on out in State Collage caused me great discontent and although people around me kept telling me to put it behind I could not. Something inside of me told me that there was more to what was happening than just a school obsessed with football. I struggled and struggled and lost sleep over it before I came to the realization that what was bothering me was not the culture of PSU that allowed Sandusky to do his crimes on campus but the ablolute power of the NCAA that allowed it to heap unjust punishment on thousands of completely innocent students, faculty, staff and alumni while a board of trustees led by our own governor sat by passively accepting blame for something that they were in no better position to prevent than the NCAA itself was. As I read through ncaa.org I realized that the organization originally formed 1n 1906 to protect student-athletes from the exploitive and dangerous practices in college athletics at the time had grown to become a society within our society with its own laws, form of government and system of justice in which it had absolute unapposed power. When the punitive nature of its system of justice applied to institutions had a negative effect on innocent student-athletes it is justified as “unavoidable” in their college athletics society. But onsider what happened in Penn State when Mark Emmert raised his 10ga. moral scatter gun and shot at the Penn State community. Everyone he shot at was innocent of any transgression but per the NCAA that was just “unavoidable”. The carnage he and the NCAA is resposible for went beyond the college community into the town and county and possibley even the state community., Even people like me who graduated over 50 years ago are accused of fostering a culture that allowed Jerry Sandusky to thrive on campus. No employer of mine ever told me that my diploma was less valuable because of Penn State’s football program. I am so proud to be a Penn State graduate and proud of the football team that is playing on the unique level playing field the NCAA has provided for them where both the offense and defense face uphill. I never thought the culture at Penn State was in any way detrimental to my studies and I don’t think it was last season either. I can only hope that the culture that existed before the NCAA came down on Penn State with both feet grows back to where it was. I can only hope the member institutions step back and ask themselves, what have we fostered? I can only hope that the faith based member institutions step back and ask themselves, Is Mark Emmert a man we would hold up as a role model for the moral character that our faith represents? If the Penn State sanctions represent the protection the NCAA provides for student-athletes, who is to protect the student athletes from the NCAA? I can only hope the member institutions can step in and save the beast they have fostered before rabies sets in but once the disease is set in the only choice is to kill it and this is going to be one very tough beast to kill! Stick with it Ryan, right will win out in the end and you are right! You let me know if there is anyway I can be of help.


    1. Bob, thank you for posting. If anything good has come out of this debacle, it is the bringing together of so many Penn Staters from across the decades. I graduated just before you arrived on campus. And we have many students and brand new alumni who have expressed both their love and their outrage. Maybe we all were a bit spoiled as Penn State seemed to function just fine without our direct involvement. That has all changed and we do need to reclaim and refocus our University so that generations to come will enjoy the kind of experience we all were privileged share.

      For the Glory,

      Gary Levitt ’64


    2. Well said. Injustice is injustice – wrap it in a swastika, a cross or a coat ‘n tie. Somebody show me substantive evidence of wrongdoing on the part of JoPa and I will reconsider the pedestal I put him on. Similarly, show me a shred of evidence and I’ll reconsider the sewer of hell I put Emmert and Freeh in.


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