Joel Myers’ Statement to the BoT

Joel N. Myers is a Member of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees. He was elected by the Alumni to serve and his term expires in 2014. He is the President of AccuWeather, Incorporated. He delivered the following statement at the August 25, 2012 Board of Trustees Meeting. The live internet feed was cut off during the statement. Trustee Myers received a standing ovation from observers in the room.  

Jerry Sandusky is convicted as a sick and monstrous man. Under the disguise of helping children, he victimized them. Those victims continue to suffer to this day. Some were victimized on our campus, and we take as much responsibility for that as is humanly possible.

By shining the light on what happened and becoming a leader against child sexual abuse, we hope to save tens of thousands of potential future victims nationwide from a similar fate as well as help those who have suffered here.

Education and awareness is the key to reducing sexual abuse, which is a plague upon this nation. Education is what we are all about. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Sexual abuse is not a rarity. It is all too common in this society. We are learning it has happened not only at Penn State but at other colleges and universities. If there is any good from this tragedy, it is the spotlight that has been shown on this epidemic of child abuse and the challenge to stop it.

Penn State is a great university. It was great prior to November and it is today. It was a great university prior to the Freeh report and it is today. Penn State was a great university before the NCAA’s unfair sanctions were forced upon it and it is today.

We have had high admission standards. We are one of the top universities, not only in the United States, but in the world.

Penn State leads the way in many fields. The Penn State faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the entire Penn State community contribute significantly to Pennsylvania, the United States, and the global society.

Once we became aware of this tragedy – and we have also learned that villains of this type are great manipulators and coverup artists – we did everything a good institution should do to move forward, and we took action to get the facts out.

We hired an independent investigator to explore and provide his expert opinion and findings. However the Freeh report, despite what the NCAA consent decree says, is still being reviewed by the Board, and has not been fully accepted. We committed to a full disclosure. We committed to move forward in a healthy way, correcting what was wrong, and providing information to law enforcement officials so that those accused would have their day in court.

Penn State has had a clean and enviable athletic record, one of only three universities in the nation to never have a major sanction by the NCAA.

Penn State has maintained one of the highest graduation rates among football athletes compared to their peer institutions. This didn’t occur in only one year, it happened year after year, decade after decade.

One should ask why is it that the NCAA wants to tear down this model?

Why is the NCAA, which includes among its members, schools and universities who graduate 20% of their basketball players and 50% of their football players, sanctioning Penn State for allowing athletics to trump academics, when it is Penn State which graduates 88% of its football players, not one year or two, but year after year and decade after decade.

These sanctions are a blight on the NCAA and our competing institutions that make up the NCAA boards.

My 9-year old son has said to me, “Dad, I helped cheer Penn State on to victory last year and now those wins have been erased. I did what you always told me to do, Dad, I gave it my all, and my cheering and enthusiasm helped support the student athletes. I felt good when we won games. It does not seem fair that they took away those wins, not only from Penn State, but away from the athletes, from the fans, and from me.”

Hundreds of thousands of Penn State families have similarly suffered. How does this help the concept of higher education, of fairness and dignity, of inspiration? What is it even based on and what does it even mean? It is a fiction; the games were won based on hard work by thousands, unrelated to Sandusky and his crimes. It is one more fiction that the NCAA has used to simply inflict hurt on the Nittany Nation with no benefit to anyone. It is designed to damage innocent students who played on the field and millions who attended the games. It is a petulant child gone wild. The NCAA has lost its moral compass. In the cold light of day we must realize we have to stand up against this, not stand down.

There is also the issue of the “vultures” – coaches from other schools -stalking our football players outside the football building after the NCAA said it was “legal” to steal away our players, even though the NCAA normally considers such recruiting illegal. The NCAA essentially said stealing is legal against Penn State.

If we must play the schools that did this to us lets be sure the crowds overwhelm them with our noise and good sportsmanship and the Nittany Lions show them no mercy on the field.

Should we even be a part of the Big Ten if our own conference schools helped tear us down? I thought they were here to help us, not to hurt us. In my view this does not fit with the ideals of fair play that we teach our students. In the cold light of day we must realize we have to stand up against this, not stand down.

The NCAA are people who tell Penn State that we put athletics before academics. The reverse is true. Perhaps these university presidents were looking in the mirror when they conjured up that statement.

For institutions of higher learning to disregard the facts and reach false conclusions betrays the very core principles for which institutions of higher learning stand and have stood for centuries.

Shame on them all. 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.

Our lawyers have used the term “crammed down,” where Emmert, the man who “negotiated” with our president Rod Erickson essentially said “you sign this agreement or you have the death penalty, you will play no football for four years.

Also, Mr. President, you are not allowed to tell the Board of Trustees. You are going to do this because if you tell them and it leaks out, we will settle for nothing less than four years of the winds of October and November blowing through an empty Beaver stadium. By the way, Dr. Erickson, we do not care if by not telling the Board of Trustees you may be violating the charter of the University. And we do not care, Mr. President, that by not telling the Board of Trustees and getting their approval, you will be violating one of the major recommendations of the Freeh report itself and the very principles we are telling you to abide by. We are the NCAA, Mr. President, and we are a dictatorship. We do what we please and you, as an NCAA member, accept it. So we have power over your institution now and forever.”

Interestingly, some in the NCAA say it did not happen that way, they say no “death penalty” was threatened, but review of the quotes from Emmert and Ray support that it occurred, just as President Erickson has said. I will pass out a review of the quotes that demonstrate these comments. But, even there, a straight answer from the NCAA seems impossible to secure. We see parsed words in a clear attempt to paint Dr. Erickson as a liar. This too is not acceptable. In the cold light of day I believe we have to stand up against this not stand down.

Are these tactics and this lack of clarity and candor what the NCAA stands for? Threats, coercion, lying, stealing, and intimidation are not what we teach our students as appropriate business tactics for a profit or non-profit organization.

I would hope such answers on a test would get a failing grade for ethics in the Smeal College of Business and in a law class at the Dickinson School of Law.

In addition, the very processes of the NCAA were not followed by the NCAA and the NCAA seems hell bent on turning a deaf ear to concerns by anyone to review its own despicable actions. In the cold light of day I believe we have to stand up against this, not stand down.

This all contrasts very sharply with the aggressive actions Penn State took quickly and with transparency and candor as the difficult news surrounding the Sandusky crimes came to light.

I personally believe, the NCAA is no longer worthy to be considered a representative of higher education. Furthermore, this powerful NCAA, an association of university presidents, apparently free of control by faculty and university boards is now seriously damaging the mission and reputation of higher education in America. The NCAA needs the fresh air of reform to blow through it. I say to the faculties and the boards of American colleges and universities, take back your institutions. I applaud the recent actions of our own faculty senate in this regard.

Finally, if any of the sanctions against Penn State are to stand, they need to fit within the rules and standards of the NCAA, need to fit within the due process of the NCAA procedures in its charter and by-laws that its member institutions have agreed upon, and needs to meet the high standards that higher education stands for in a system of fairness, and within the American system of the rule of law and justice.

15 thoughts on “Joel Myers’ Statement to the BoT

  1. The real question—does anyone else on the BOT support these concepts, particularly among the ruling Exec Committee? Do they care enough to AST/SPEAK OUT/FIGHT for our great school collectively in such support?
    Sadly, based on their actions and inactions since last year, Mr. Myers in likely lonely within this BOT, relative hold these principled beliefs and fighting for them.
    I know PS4RS supports this fight and to that I applaud you and join you.

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    1. So far there are four Trustees who have spoken out against the Freeh Report and for justice: Joel Myers and Al Clemens from the old Board, and new Alumni representatives, Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie. Adam Taliaferro is fence straddling.

      While their numbers are small, they are effectively challenging the leadership. We are taking this fight all the way through the 2014 gubernatorial election. As long as we stay united and committed WE will win this fight for the soul and the future of OUR University.

      Stay Calm and Fight On!

      GL

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  2. I believe much of the hard work at ps4Ever is beginning to turn the tides of justice for Penn state! Good work, and thank you !

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  3. The power of one is a powerful concept and as long as Mr. Meyers and a few of the others on the BOT are unwilling to toe the “company line” — we can have an impact.

    Many of the long time board members will never align themselves with Meyers because with it comes the acknowledgement of how poorly they’ve handled the business of being trustees of the university. Mr. Meyers although a longtime board member obviously feels that breaking from the “pack” is the right thing to do in this crisis that is tearing our university to shreds.

    Peetz comes from the corporate world where expediency rules — get rid of the problem and move on — Mr. Wall Streeter, you lost a gazillion dollars for your clients, you helped to tank the world economy — let’s just dust up here for a bit and pretend that it didn’t happen, make a few cosmetic changes and then move forward. Frazier’s firm — Merck — killed and maimed people by putting Vioxx on the market KNOWING that the drug had problems — and how was that “resolved” — pay millions to settle the class action suits but only after you’ve made billions on your crappy drug.
    They are just two of the “move along” crowd who want to dominate the conversation and peddle the pablum that their way is the ONLY way to get this situation behind the university.

    I like Mr. Meyers’ and Lubrano’s way — confront it. Confront the fact that the media pushed the BOT into making stupid decisions all along the way. The BOT created a vacuum in leadership when they dismissed/fired Spanier and they put in place a man who was not a leader but a lifelong follower. And when Erickson needed to show leadership ability, he caved to the bullying of Mark Emmert and his cronies at the NCAA. I like also that Meyers calls out the NCAA for allowing our players to become “free agents” in the marketplace of Div. 1 football. Reading the story of USC’s Lnae Kiffin having a booster fly his private plane to CT to collect Redd and his family so that they could be wined and dined in LA was an example of everything that the NCAA should be AGAINST and not abetting. It was an act that was totally the opposite of everything that Joe Paterno and Penn State football represented and it totally devalued the idea of the “student” being the most important part of the term “student-athlete.” Also kudos to Mr. Meyers for taking on the Big Ten and revealing that group for what they are — not one of the presidents of those universities or Jim Delaney stood up and said — wait, why isn’t the NCAA doing an actual investigation — why are they making decisions before all of the criminal proceedings have ended, why are they basing their “punishment” of Penn State on what was subposed to be an internal report? The fact that the Big Ten then added another $13 million in fines on PSU pretty much tells me precisely how much they do not like our university and perhaps it’s time for the university to divorce itself from the Big Ten and look at other conferences which are re-aligning every year. If the Big Ten had at any point intervened with the NCAA and questioned the actions of that entity, that could have made a difference — instead, they chose to pile on.

    Thank you Mr. Meyers for having the courage to defend Penn State — there may only be you and a few others on the board but there are thousands of us alumni and students and friends of the university who will support every action you choose to take in an attempt to bring some sanity to this situation by taking the NCAA to court over the sanctions and using the flawed Freeh Report as the means to justify what they did.

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    1. Sherry — what they and their consultants have not gameplanned for is that we are educated Penn Staters. Your comments don’t show up in focus groups. They are used to manipulating the uninformed. And they think we will lose interest and just go away. They really don’t get it. But they will . . . they will.

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  4. Thank you!! I personally feel so angry, frustrated and helpless. I wish there would be more for alumni and fans to actually do. I’ve sent emails to the BOT and Erickson and read everything I can but it’s like Washington, DC – no one listens or cares what I think or say. But if you and Anthony can keep it up ( and convince Adam to join you), maybe someone will listen to you. Fran Sonne 1973

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  5. I wrote the following email to PSU’s BOT. I am hoping that if we keep driving home the below message, the BOT will (hopefully) never vote to endorse the Freeh fiction, and start fighting to get Penn State back.

    Dear Governor Tom Corbett, Karen Peetz, Ken Frazier, John Surma and President Rodeny Erickson:

    As you are aware, Joel Myers provided a stirring speech to standing ovation regarding how the flawed Freeh report (which Ken Frazier/Tom Corbett recommended to commission) has destroyed the Penn State brand and allowed the NCAA to accept its baseless conclusions this weekend. Instead of joining the few brave trustees (notably, McCombie, Myers, Clemens, and Lubrano) in fighting the Freeh fiction, you (publically) endorsed the report (although I recognize no formal votes have been taken to finalize the endorsement), and accepted all penalities that the NCAA meted out (based upon the public’s perception that you accepted the report).

    Although Penn State has never seen “a critter like this” (seriously, hiring Marsh was the biggest mistake I have ever seen), not once did you think about taking a step back, instead of rushing to judgment. You handed Mark Emmert a loaded gun at the cost of appeasing a bully, and you placed your own self interests ahead of the university. All of you have breached your fiduciary duty to the university, students, faculty, alumni and fan base. Through your senseless actions, you have lost your voice to hundreds of thousands of people who deeply care about the welfare of the university. (Why didn’t you listen to us??) You only cared about winning over the media driving the current narrative. Not once did you consider how true Penn Staters feel — you only cared about driving home the message of “moving on” — and why did you care so much about driving home this message? It was because YOU helped create the current media narrative (i.e., this was a cover-up by Spanier, Paterno, Schultz, Curley). You commissioned Louis Freeh (a simple background check on this man and you would realize that his stint as former FBI head was filled with corruption and bribery.) You gave him the platform to destroy the university. You indemnified the Freeh group (and as such, they had no repercussions and/or interests in providing an accurate report.) Didn’t you realize that these people are all out to grab power (i.e. Freeh, Emmert, and other university heads) at the expense of Penn State? You have been out manuevered at every turn. You deserve to be fired immediately.

    Dr. Graham Spanier, although he has nothing to gain (except his reputation), is the ONLY brave former administrator still willing to stand up for the school. Erickson, you should learn to take a page out of his book and develop a backbone. Your groveling to Emmert has embarrassed/shamed Penn Staters. You don’t have the stomach to lead this university. You belong in academia, and must resign immediately. In your place, Dr. Joel N. Myers should be elected as the next President since he is one of the few BOT members who has the true interests of Penn Staters in mind.

    Peetz, you are an embarrassment. You tout “open transparency,” and promised to meet with alumni to discuss the Freeh fiction, and instead, you lied to the alumni and stated you never made this promise. The truth is, you thought that being a chairperson of PSU’s BOT would lead you to greater Wall Street ambitions — you didn’t realize that the job required “real work.” You have failed miserably — you are so out of touch with Penn Staters, you need to go back to New York and never come back.

    Frazier — the irony is not lost on us that it was you and Corbett who pushed for the commissioning of Freeh. We now know it’s your goal to hide your complicity in the Sandusky scandal. There are people who are looking into your background as to why you would throw other PSU administrators under the bus. I know you were hoping that the Freeh report would shield you from the truth. You, Corbett, and Surma are hiding people in the Second Mile and the PA Department of Child Welfare, and the truth will eventually come out as to all your roles.

    If you truly care about the welfare of our great university, you would all immediately resign. Otherwise, more and more people will be researching your background and your ties to the Second Mile and your collective roles to the Sanduksy scandal, along with the Freeh fiction.

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  6. I don’t keep up with Pennsylvania politics, but maybe it’s time someone launched a recall campaign for the PA Governor. His alleged ties to Second Mile and failure to bring charges against Sandusky when he was AG may get the ball rolling. If nothing else, fighting a recall might get him out of our hair for awhile and help minimize further damage he might do to Penn State.

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  7. Wow Sherrie! I thought that we were supposed to “make nice” with the Board with our comments. Seriously, there is a great deal of credence in what you have said. I am particularly happy to hear someone question the hiring of Gene Marsh. Given his “insider” status with the NCAA, he may have been a good hire as PARTof a legal team. However, the legal team should have been formulated in November when the NCAA first gave notice that they were investigating Penn State. And that legal team should have included a LITIGATOR ready to file any necessary action if the NCAA overstepped its proper authority In a letter that I’ll be sending to Trustee Myers, I am going to raise the question of how in the world the BOT allowed this chain of events to take place. Whether a coverup was involved that attempted to protect the Board members who fell asleep on their watch and the Governor, I don’t know. But at the very least, there was gross ineptitude on the part of many Board members that is not at all keeping with being stewards of our great university.

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    1. Jaw1452, I am right with you. As you can tell, I was (and still am) very angry with the BOT — although my email was more rage-filled than articulate, I am hoping that the BOT does not become complacent in thinking that Penn Staters are now focusing their anger on the NCAA rather than on them. Not surprisingly, I immediately received a form response back from the BOT that my email was sent to a “general” email inbox, and that someone will review it. I know the BOT wants PSU to channel their anger on the NCAA, but we should not be that gullible. Why did the NCAA overstep its boundaries at the outset? It’s because certain BOT members are hiding their complicit role(s) with the Second Mile/PA Department of Child Welfare — these members needed this to be a “Penn State football/Joe Paterno scandal.” Otherwise, as you correctly pointed out, how could these “chain of events take place?” Why didn’t they have a legal team ready to file an injunction when Emmert/NCAA threatened the death penalty? Why did they not even review the Freeh report but (publically) endorse it? Why did Erickson/Joyner/Peetz discuss the consent decree with B’OB but kept majority of other BOT members in the dark? Why did Peetz call for a BOT meeting to vote on endorsing the consent decree in clear violation of the Sunshine Act? Why promise “open transparency” when clearly, certain BOT members are hiding their roles in the Sandusky scandal? There are many more questions I have, but will probably never receive a satisfactory response in return.

      On a different note, I commend PS4RS and others out there who are fighting for the truth. In particular, I think Franco Harris is doing an amazing job of confronting the 18 chancellors/university presidents who endorsed PSU football penalties/sanctions. Although some might consider Franco’s visits to be an insurmountable task, I believe that one lone voice can tip the scales of justice.

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  8. Outstanding commentary – Penn State Alumni need to really lean into the BOT and renounce the NCAA “punishment” before the damage is permanent!!

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  9. Where was Dr. Myers when the “crap hit the fan” last Fall? While his remarks are valid, if he felt that way, why not stand up and be counted when it really mattered???

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