Penn State officials vow continued focus on positive change

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sen. George Mitchell, the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, reported today (Sept. 6) that the University has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh recommendations and all of its annual obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The report includes Mitchell’s impartial external review of Penn State’s efforts to implement the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Under the AIA, the University was obligated to take all reasonable steps to implement the recommendations made in the Freeh Report by Dec. 31, 2013.

“There is still more to be done, but we are very pleased that our efforts have been recognized by Sen. Mitchell in his latest report that validates the substantial reforms that have been implemented over the past 18 months,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “The favorable report is a significant milestone for us, but it does not represent the conclusion of our efforts. We are keeping our teams in place and are embarking with a sustained sense of urgency on the next phase of our plan to continuously improve our governance, policies and procedures and operations.”

The complete text of the report and information about actions Penn State has taken is available at http://www.dlapiper.com/ncaa_penn_state_report_4/.

The senator’s report notes Penn State’s comprehensive completion of the implementation of virtually all of the recommendations made by Judge Freeh. Among other things, the report notes with approval the governance reforms enacted by the University's Board of Trustees; the work of Penn State’s chief ethics and compliance officer and athletics integrity officer; the significant work being done to coordinate youth programming, including the hiring of a full time youth program coordinator; and the development, review and improvement of a number of University policies and procedures in areas such as police, safety, risk management and human resources. The sum total of these efforts represents an institution-wide, top down and bottom-up effort to reinforce and strengthen the University’s commitment to integrity and core values.

Sen. Mitchell’s report concludes that “While parties may continue to argue about the history that led to the Freeh Report and the AIA, a consensus has developed that the principles at the heart of these reforms are best practices for the governance of any large university.   Penn State’s Phase II plan of action assures the monitor that the University has embraced the Freeh Report’s recommendations as a roadmap supporting long-term enhancement. It demonstrates that, even after the Dec. 31, 2013, deadline for completion is long-since passed, Penn State plans to continue to be guided by the recommendations in its mission to establish effective ethics, compliance and governance programs, support the physical safety of all individuals on its campuses and promote athletics integrity.”

"We are working to become a national model for our policies, practices and procedures in youth programming, athletics, safety and security, human resources, compliance, reporting and responding to wrongdoing and other critical University functions,” Erickson added. "While the consent decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement gave us until Dec. 31, 2013, to complete the 119 recommendations, we have met that deadline with four months to spare. We can now use the momentum and successes of the past 18 months to move into the next phase was we continue to monitor, review and improve our governance, operations and policies in a structured and disciplined way. We, of course, will report publicly on our continued efforts and progress.”

Keith Masser, chairman of the Board of Trustees, echoed Erickson’s statements and also thanked the countless number of University administrators, faculty, staff and students who devoted literally thousands of hours over the past 18 months toward the implementation of Judge Freeh’s recommendations.

“These have been massive undertakings that have required the cooperation and collaboration of all parts of the University community,” Masser said. “Work on some of these reform initiatives began with the receipt of Judge Freeh’s interim recommendations back in January 2012 and will continue.” 

Masser said he is impressed by the diligent and focused efforts of the entire Penn State team and confident that the University is on the right course now and into the future.

The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the Athletics Integrity Agreement in August 2012 as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure that the University continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity. A review of the University’s progress by an external monitor like Sen. Mitchell was one of the recommendations made by Judge Freeh.

With the approval of the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, Sen. Mitchell’s team will continue its independent evaluation of Penn State’s activities and a report outlining actions taken will continue to be produced on a quarterly basis. Mitchell's five-year appointment as the University's independent monitor began in August 2012. Mitchell's previous update was issued May 31.

Last Updated September 06, 2013