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Student on Penn State board will withdraw from suit against NCAA under pressure

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 4:57 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE — A Penn State student who serves on the school's board of trustees will withdraw as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NCAA because board leaders told him his spot on the university's presidential selection committee was in jeopardy, one trustee said.

Peter Khoury, 23, an Allentown native who represents more than 80,000 undergraduate and graduate students as the only student on the board, is expected to formally withdraw this week, said Trustee Anthony Lubrano, who is a plaintiff. The lawsuit, filed in May, seeks to reverse NCAA sanctions the university agreed to in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Khoury didn't respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Board spokesman David LaTorre said in a statement that five trustees listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit that legendary coach Joe Paterno's family filed are causing a conflict of interest.

“With respect to Trustee Khoury's service on the presidential selection committee, his personal interests and positions in the litigation would have required that he recuse and absent himself from significant parts of the committee deliberations and candidate interviews,” LaTorre said.

The board is seeking a replacement for President Rodney Erickson, who announced he will retire in June 2014.

LaTorre added that the trustees listed as plaintiffs are exceeding their authority by claiming they're suing as members of the board. The board is not party to the suit.

Lubrano said that the board's leadership asked all five trustees who were plaintiffs to remove themselves about two weeks ago.

Khoury is apparently the only trustee who will withdraw. Lubrano said he — along with Ryan McCombie, Adam Taliaferro and Al Clemens — intend to “see this thing through.”

The plaintiffs include four university faculty members and former Penn State football players and coaches.

The lawsuit, which names the NCAA, president Mark Emmert and chairman of the executive committee Edward Ray as defendants, asks the court to issue an injunction on the sanctions the organization levied against Penn State's football program in July 2012.

Sanctions include a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, a reduction of scholarships and the vacating of more than 100 wins by Paterno. Those penalties were based on findings in the university-commissioned Freeh Report, which concluded Penn State administrators covered up sexual abuse by former assistant coach Sandusky.

Anna Orso is a freelance writer based in State College.

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