STATE COLLEGE —
A member and former chairman of the Penn State board of trustees has resigned, saying his presence on the board had become “a distraction and an impediment” to the university’s efforts to move forward following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Steve Garban’s resignation Thursday night made him the first board member to leave since the crisis engulfed Penn State.
Garban, who had stepped down as board chairman after Sandusky’s November arrest but had remained a board member, was harshly criticized over his handling of the Sandusky case. Fellow board members and alumni had called for him to resign.
Garban didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday night. In his resignation letter, he said he had “devoted” his adult life to Penn State.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve the university that has done so much for me,” the letter stated. “Indeed, it is precisely because of my deep gratitude to and respect for my beloved alma mater that I now step aside.”
An internal investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that Garban was briefed twice about developments in the Sandusky case but didn’t share what he knew with the entire board, depriving trustees of a chance to prepare for the worst crisis in Penn State’s 157-year history.
Freeh’s 267-page report portrayed a disengaged board that handed too much responsibility to the university president and failed to investigate deeply enough once it became aware of a grand jury probe.
After the report’s release, trustees accepted responsibility for a failure of oversight and said they were “deeply ashamed.”
Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz, who announced Garban’s resignation in a letter on the board’s website, had said at the time that no trustee would step down.
Garbab called the past months “some of the most painful of my life.
“The horrific allegations that came to light in November have haunted us all, but nothing we have experienced compares to that of Jerry Sandusky’s victims,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers will remain with them always.”
In a response posted on the trustees’ website, Peetz thanked Garban for his years of service to Penn State.
While Garban is the first trustee to resign following the Sandusky scandal, he’s not the first board casualty. Incumbent trustee Anne Riley lost re-election last spring as alumni upset over the board’s handling of the crisis picked three new trustees — all of whom campaigned on a reform platform — to sit on the 32-member panel.