Student leaders back Corbett’s decision

Penn State student government officials were among the numerous representatives flanking Gov. Tom Corbett during his announcement Wednesday of a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA.

Despite their presence, leaders from the University Park Undergraduate Association, Black Caucus and Off-Campus Student Union said their respective organizations had yet to adopt any specific stance in regard to the litigation.

“I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to play out, since it’s going to be left up to the courts,” UPUA President Courtney Lennartz said. “I think it’s pretty much out of our hands.”

The association could vote to adopt a formal resolution in support of the lawsuit when it reconvenes next week, Lennartz said.

“The point of it is that the NCAA has overstepped their boundaries,” said Ryan Brown, Black Caucus president and at-large UPUA representative.

“They’re punishing current and future students of Penn State” and not the officials named in various lawsuits surrounding the scandal, he said.

Brown said he did not represent the caucus or the student government during the press conference and was instead expressing his own views. The governor’s office invited student leaders to stand in support of the lawsuit, Lennartz and Brown said.

In October, the undergraduate association released a statement endorsed by the student Academic Affairs Committee and Faculty Student Senate aimed at stopping the University Faculty Senate from releasing its own statement critical of the NCAA sanctions.

“As students, we wish not to contest the sanctions but rather to accept them and to cooperate with [athletic integrity monitor] George Mitchell throughout their implementation,” the letter said. “We feel that our cooperation is a necessary step in the resolution of an extraordinarily sad and extraordinarily difficult time for Penn State. As student members of the Penn State community, we urge the University Faculty Senate to lay the issue of the NCAA sanctions to rest.

“We feel as though we are finally at a point of closure where the process of moving forward can begin.”

Morale among the student body and the Penn State community was low when the counterstatement was released, former Academic Affairs Committee Chairman Rick Pooler said.

“We didn’t feel as though the faculty senate was the correct venue to combat the sanctions,” Pooler said. “We thought there should be actual initiatives … that changed the university.”

Joe Nichisti, Off-Campus Student Union vice president of programming, said his organization did not officially support the lawsuit despite his presence on stage.

“I think most Penn State students would stand behind this,” Nichisti said. “I know that students are definitely feeling that we’ve been cast in a poor light due to these sanctions. I think this lawsuit can help us move forward.”