At least some members of the Penn State board of trustees apparently have decided to fight the severe sanctions the NCAA levied against the football program.
Several members of the board claim the NCAA did not give Penn State due process in delivering its punishment, and as a result, they plan to file an appeal Monday afternoon with the NCAA, according to ESPN.com.
That will merely be the first step, according to the report. Because the trustees expect the NCAA to reject the appeal, the trustees then plan to file a federal lawsuit that will request that the sanctions be invalidated.
Also at issue is the fact that university president Rodney Erickson signed a consent decree accepting the sanctions, which include a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, scholarship losses and the vacating of wins from 1998 through 2011.
But some trustees question whether Erickson had the authority to do that because the decree was not brought to the full board for a vote.
The challenge apparently is being led by a new member of the board, Ryan J. McCombie, a retired Navy SEAL who joined the 32-member board in June.
A letter obtained by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” indicates McCombie has hired attorney Paul Kelly to file the appeal.
In the letter, McCombie wrote, “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.“
Kelly told ESPN.com the appeal would be sent to the NCAA at about 4:30 p.m. ET.
It’s unclear whether McCombie has the support of the majority of the board regarding his actions. After a long board meeting on July 25, the board issued a statement saying it stood by Erickson’s decision to sign the consent decree.
Penn State would have faced a four-year death penalty if Erickson had not signed the decree, according to a report last week in ESPN The Magazine.