Ryan McCombie Appeals to the Penn State Board of Trustees

Ryan McCombie’s Appeal to the Board of Trustees 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

5 comments on “Ryan McCombie Appeals to the Penn State Board of Trustees

  1. Finally, a leader emerges from the insular club! They’ll learn that thinking for oneself can be invigorating, even if it takes more work than slothful conformity.

    Great letter, Capt McCombie!

  2. The NCAA will be lucky if they get out of this without a law suit. They seem to wield too much power for a group that lacks the true authority to impose such ridiculous penalties!

  3. I hope NCAA applies the ‘death penalty’ to Penn State. This entire process was done publicly. It is only now that you object because you babies did not get the outcome you wanted. Well, the children who were repeatedly raped had NO VOICE. Your image is tarnished forever. I will not contribute again to Penn State.

    • I am sorry you feel that way, Mandy, but Penn State is a great educational institution, and football is only one part of the quality of education that is provided to all who attend there. I have great pride in my Penn State multi-generational heritage, and will continue to support and defend her in all things, but also agreeing that the wheels of justice should turn and those who bring shame on her will pay in the criminal justice system just as Jerry Sandusky has. Anyone else who is found guilty by an appropriate review of the actual evidence shall pay, too, and will not be defended here. Penn State through the actions of the NCAA has not been afforded due process, and that is all those of us who love Penn State and all it stands for–love, loyalty, integrity, honesty, pride–want.

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