LEMONT FURNACE — Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien gave a private presentation to the board of trustees Friday that indicates the university is considering asking the NCAA to reduce some of its sanctions.
O’Brien addressed the trustees behind closed doors in an executive session for more than an hour Friday morning at the Penn State Fayette branch campus. The presentation slides were visible from a hallway through several full-length glass-paned doors into the room where the session was held.
It’s not clear what the proposal entails or when the request would be made to the NCAA.
One of the presentation slides had the heading “potential proposal to modify sanctions” and one had a heading concerning the impact of the scholarship reductions that are part of the sanctions.
Another slide read “Individual lawsuits do not help us!” with the words “do not” underlined and in capital letters.
That slide said the lawsuits would discourage the NCAA from working with Penn State to modify the consent decree. The lawsuits would result in “bad press,” the slide also read.
O’Brien addressed a trustees crowd that included Anthony Lubrano, Adam Taliaferro, Ryan McCombie, Alvin Clemens and Peter Khoury — five of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit the family of Joe Paterno brought against the NCAA to reverse all the sanctions.
Earlier this year, Penn State trustee Paul Silvis said he was hopeful the NCAA would consider reducing the sanctions because of the progress the university had made on implementing the recommendations in Louis Freeh’s report. Silvis cited the work being done to implement the Freeh report recommendations.
As of Thursday, the Freeh recommendation implementation was almost finished, as the university said it had implemented 115 of the 119.
After O’Brien’s presentation was over, a number of trustees sprang from their seats and gave him a standing ovation.
As he was getting ready to leave the campus, O’Brien would only say that he was “just here to say hello to some people” and got into a Penn State van.
Trustees and administrators who came out of the room after the session were tight-lipped, too.
President Rodney Erickson didn’t respond when asked to comment about O’Brien’s appearance, and administrator Tom Poole said O’Brien “just wanted to see some folks.”
Trustees Joel Myers said the discussion was private and would not comment. Lubrano shook his head.
Penn State lawyer Frank Guadagnino declined to comment but said the session was “purely informational” and that it falls under the state’s Sunshine Law’s provision regarding informational conferences. Guadagnino said no action was taken, and the matter would not be brought up at the board’s voting meeting Friday afternoon.
O’Brien’s presentation comes one year to the day the university was rocked by the release of the Freeh report, which blamed senior university officials for concealing abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago.
The NCAA used the Freeh report’s findings in lieu of its own investigation and handed down severe sanctions a week and a half later.
O’Brien won numerous coach of the year awards after guiding the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record in 2012, despite the team’s star running back leaving for Southern California and the kicker leaving for Texas.