For all of the talk about more transparency at Penn State, having the Board of Trustees meet behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the NCAA's sanctions speaks volumes.
The sanctions have drawn national attention and raised many questions.
Rather than meet openly and allow the public to learn who was involved in the decision, which trustees were told in advance and what factors were considered before Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed a consent decree accepting the punishment, trustees shut them out, issuing a meekly worded statement later that offered no real insight.
So much for a new era of openness.
On Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the organization would fine Penn State $60 million, impose a four-year ban on bowl games, reduce football scholarships for four years and wipe out 112 football victories since 1998 because of Penn State's actions or lack thereof in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case.
Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was convicted last month of 45 charges related to sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
Some trustees were angry because they were not consulted before Erickson agreed to the NCAA's terms. Erickson has said that if he had not signed the agreement, it was possible the NCAA could have banned the football program from playing for four years.
After trustees were blasted in former FBI Director Louis Freeh's report for not being involved enough when Sandusky was molesting boys, it's ironic that apparently most trustees were kept in the dark about the discussions about possible punishments between Penn State and the NCAA and Erickson's decision to accept them.
This is exactly the kind of protocol - in which only a small segment of board members were included - used by former PSU President Graham Spanier.
We realize this has been beyond a high-profile case, and that Penn State did not have a lot of time to mull over sanctions the NCAA was about to impose. But the board deserved a courtesy alert before learning of the school's fate at the same time as the rest of the world.
So did new football coach Bill O'Brien who, while briefed generally on the looming severity of the sanctions, said he did not learn of their specifics until 9 a.m. Monday.
One board member, newly elected Anthony Lubrano, was critical of Erickson and the PSU administration for accepting the sanctions without a negotiation so it's clear the board is not speaking with one voice - and that may be why the entire board was not briefed.
But it should have been.
It's also troubling that once again the Penn State fans, donors and alumni - as well as state taxpayers who will give Penn State nearly $228 million this fiscal year - were shut out of the discussions.
Where's the transparency?
If university leaders can't provide it, then state lawmakers must.
It's time for the state Legislature to send a message to Penn State by making it subject to the state's open records law.
Currently, the 14 state-owned universities, such as Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Clarion University must comply with the open records law. They have suffered no ill effects of meeting those requirements. Those 14 universities were given a combined $413 million in the new state budget.
The state Legislature, however, largely exempted Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln universities from the open records law, even though the four schools are to get a combined $515 million from taxpayers this year.
It's long past time this changed.
When state legislators get back to work in the fall - after their two months-plus vacation - one order of business should be to expand the state's open records law to include Penn State and other state-related universities.
This might not stop closed-door meetings, but it might provide the public with access to information that could shed more light on Penn State's actions.