My Emails with BOT member Ken Frazier

Board member Ken Frazier,
My wife and I are former Penn State graduates (my wife in 04 and
myself in 06). We actually met and were married at the university so
you can imagine our fondness for it. Some of the best memories of our
lives have been there and we both have always had an amazing sense of
pride to be associated with it. Until recently that is. Seeing my
school's name and values being trampled on due to the acts of a few
has brought great embarrassment and shame to us. Not so much because
of the way we are being portrayed by the media but because of the way
you and the board seem to be fine with it. At some point we need to
stand up and acknowledge that we do not have a culture problem at our
wonderful university. That the values we learned (academics first and
foremost) are exactly what we strive for everyday and that never
changed. Seeing our president stand silently while NCAA president
Emmert inaccurately condemned our school was humiliating. We do not
have a culture problem here. If anything our culture is one that
should be modeled at every university across the country. If our own
president and our own board will not stand for us then who will? I
respectfully ask that you, as one of our representatives, side with
Ryan McCombie and appeal the NCAA sactions in the best interest of the
university and let the cards fall where they may. Thank you. We Are.

For the glory
Thank you for your continuing support for our University.

As I have been deluged with similar notes, I can only respond to a few. Given the tone of civility in your note, I will give you my perspective. I would respectfully suggest that like many alums you are taking a somewhat myopic and simplified position on what is a very painful, difficult and complex dilemma.

Have you read the quotes from Coach O'Brien? If so, you'll note that what he desperately wants is to put all this behind us to the greatest extent possible. President Erickson made the choice that in his mind and heart was the best choice for the University and the football program.

Do you really believe that our President cares less for Penn State than you do? Really? The real difference is that he has to make the best of a horrible set of choices. You blithely say "appeal the sanctions" and "let the cards fall where they may"... Do you really mean that you're okay with Beaver Stadium possibly being empty for four seasons? Even if you are, do you think that would be fair to those young men who want nothing more than to get a first-rate education while representing our University on the football field ( albeit under conditions that place them at a competitive disadvantage)?

I respect and value your opinion. I also share your despair with how our University is being portrayed. At the same time, the broader public believes we have "institutional responsibility" for what happened to those kids on our campus. We are at a huge disadvantage and the NCAA holds all the cards. The fact that we think it isn't fair does not confer upon us any leverage to make the NCAA back down.

With all good wishes
Mr Frazier,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I have read the quotes from
Coach O'Brien and we are blessed to have him. The football program is
in great hands. I do not think that our president nor the members of
the board care less about the university than I do. I realize that
there is no winning hand in this situation. Please help me better
understand why the route of not accepting the sanctions is not worth
pursuing. You seem to be implying that we will definitely be getting
a 4 year death penalty in that case. Could we not appeal those
penalties as well, even taking legal action against the NCAA if
necessary? The NCAA is side stepping their own bylaws to make an
example of us. Surely you must agree that we would have a chance in
court to fight this injustice should it come to that. I am just
trying to understand. Thank you again for your response.

Best wishes
I do not agree that we have a meaningful chance in court. In the past, the federal courts have shown no interest in construing the by-laws of a purely voluntary organization like the NCAA and have rejected the idea that the NCAA's failure to abide by notions of fairness gives one a right to assert civil rights violations. ( By the way, while Penn Staters are clamoring for their "due process" rights, the US Supreme Court this week upheld the State of Texas's right to execute a man with an IQ of 60 despite established precedent that it is "cruel and unusual punishment" to execute the mentally retarded.)

While you assert that NCAA is sidestepping its own by-laws, those by-laws have very broad language that the NCAA is relying on in giving us the sanctions. Our "appeal" would in all practicality be to the same people who were willing to vote for a multi-year death penalty in the first place.

We are represented by able and experienced counsel, Gene Marsh, who has years of experience representing schools and coaches ( e.g., USC , Jim Tressel ) before the NCAA. The simple fact is that he believes we have almost no chance of success. The advice of knowledgeable and experienced counsel is preferable to me versus a cathartic but quixotic exercise of "appealing" against a backdrop of public opinion which shows that 75% of Americans believe the sanctions were either "just right" or "too light".

While we all love our school, we must remember that many others feel moral outrage over child sexual abuse that rivals or exceeds our outrage about the loss of football scholarships and bowl eligibility.

Best regards,

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