The Penn State Board of Trustees gathered Wednesday afternoon to discuss whether President Rodney Erickson had the authority to agree to unprecedented NCAA sanctions against the football program without first getting the board's approval, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.
The trustees and Erickson assembled in a meeting room on the first floor of a hotel in the city of State College, home to Penn State's main campus. Reporters were kept out.
A person who was not authorized to talk about the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity said the trustees were to confront Erickson over his acceptance of NCAA sanctions that will cost Penn State tens of millions of dollars and likely cripple its football team for years to come.
Some trustees have expressed concern that Erickson violated a board rule that says the board must authorize the signing of "contracts, legal documents, and other obligations."
Penn State spokesman David La Torre said Wednesday that Erickson had authority to act without the approval of the full board.
Erickson has said he had no choice but to accept the NCAA sanctions because the governing body could have shut down the football program altogether.
The NCAA imposed a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, a loss of scholarships and other sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. It also erased 14 years of victories, wiping out 111 of coach Joe Paterno's wins and stripping him of his standing as the most successful coach in the history of big-time college football.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said he relied on the conclusions of a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who found that Paterno and three top officials concealed abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago in order to protect the school and its powerful football program.
Many alumni and Penn State fans are incensed over the NCAA penalty and Penn State's acceptance of it.