Integrity monitor details continued progress in new quarterly report

May 29, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State is continuing to successfully undertake and implement initiatives launched in response to the recommendations of the Freeh Report, according to the 11th quarterly report tracking Penn State's progress in meeting the goals of the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA) signed by Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. The complete text of the report, including information about actions Penn State has taken, is available here.

The report is the first issued since the appointment of Charles P. Scheeler as independent monitor. Sen. George Mitchell, who was named in 2012 by the NCAA as the independent monitor for Penn State to oversee the AIA, announced in February his withdrawal from the position for personal reasons unrelated to the University. Scheeler had served as Mitchell’s principal assistant and lead member of the monitoring team.

Scheeler continues Mitchell’s previous responsibility of providing quarterly updates to the University and general public on Penn State’s compliance with the agreement.

"During this reporting period Penn State continued to fulfill its obligations under the AIA and to follow through with efforts undertaken in support of the University’s plan for continuous improvement," Scheeler said in the new report.

During the past quarter, Scheeler’s team made multiple visits to Penn State’s University Park campus to meet with a wide array of University administrators and other leaders, and several councils and working groups.

Among activities reviewed by Scheeler during this reporting quarter:

- Ethics Specialist Tim Balliett conducted 46 meetings with students, faculty and staff to publicize and receive further feedback on the draft statement of core values. University Ethics and Compliance also received feedback online at values.psu.edu and Balliett worked with Student Affairs to begin incorporating the values into New Student Orientation programs.

Additionally, Balliett prepared unit-specific reports on data received from the values and culture survey and began meeting with units to review analysis and discuss strategies to implement in response to identified issues.

- The University continued implementation of a process for completing background checks required for employees who have routine interaction with minors. Following the first phase of background checks for individuals who most clearly meet the statutory requirement, background checks began in April for business and auxiliary staff who support summer youth programs.

Youth Programs Compliance Specialist Sandy Weaver has conducted training sessions with more than 600 individuals in 37 units to educate them about rationale of changes to Pennsylvania child protection laws, pertinent provisions and resulting changes to Penn State processes. Weaver also tracked and reported the number of youth protection reports received so far this year, an increase over last year. Scheeler said this suggests “improved awareness and usage of the reporting process.”

- In a March report to the Board of Trustees Committee on Legal and Compliance, Director of Ethics and Compliance Regis Becker reviewed the Athletics Compliance Office’s roles and responsibilities. He also reviewed NCAA secondary violations statistics from 2001-14, which have increased coinciding with growth of the office. He noted the office received 600 requests for rules interpretations between September and February.

- More than 15,000 employees and volunteers have taken the revised “Reporting Child Abuse” training since Jan. 1, more than double the number who completed the training during the same period in 2014.

- Ethics and Compliance has undertaken several projects recommended in the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment report including employee training on sexual misconduct; determining employee designations for reporting purposes; developing training for advocates, clinicians and others working with sexual misconduct victims; and implementing a new universal hotline for all misconduct.

Also in response to the task force report, the Office of Student Affairs began a national search for a Title IX coordinator and is seeking an educational coordinator and bystander intervention program coordinator. The University piloted a climate survey at five campuses to better understand the scope of sexual misconduct issues, and is analyzing resources needed to support services at Commonwealth Campuses.

- Former Penn State Police officer and detective Spencer Peters joined the Office of Student Conduct as a full-time investigator. His previous experience specialized in cases of sexual assault and harassment and he will investigate those cases and others involving potential criminality.

Student Conduct also piloted a new investigative model, similar to that endorsed by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

- Following an internal administrative review, Timothy Mercer was named interim assistant vice president for police and public safety and the University plans to reorganize Penn State Police along traditional hierarchical line with clear responsibilities.

- Accenture was selected to assist in the configuration of a new human resources information system, and the University continued efforts to enhance security at athletics and recreational facilities.

- Athletics Integrity Officer Julie Del Giorno reported nearly all required individuals had completed annual athletics compliance training ahead of the June 30 deadline. She provided ethical awareness, leadership and NCAA rules education to groups within and outside Intercollegiate Athletics

Del Giorno said she received 15 complaints during this reporting period. Nine have been investigated with action taken; five are under investigation and one was determined to have no merit.

Scheeler’s team observed other relevant events during the reporting period including the formal reorganization of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics; numerous student-athlete academic achievements; and that, following NCAA approval of a cost of attendance stipend, Penn State will offer stipends of up to $4,788 per student annually.

Scheeler’s team continued to monitor relevant lawsuits and legal proceedings involving the University, as well as governance activities.

“In the coming quarter, we will continue to monitor the implementation of the changes to Penn State’s policies procedures, and training related to child protection and background check obligations,” Scheeler wrote. “We also will continue to observe Penn State’s efforts to finalize and socialize the Penn State values, develop an ethical decision-making model, implement the recommendations of the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Task Force, construct the HRIS and uphold Penn State’s obligations under the AIA.”

The next report will be the monitor’s third annual report. In the second annual report, Mitchell said that should the University continue its progress in the third year, he would consider recommending the NCAA and Big Ten conclude the monitorship earlier than scheduled. Scheeler said that would be addressed in the coming report.

Last Updated September 14, 2015