Big Ten: Louis Freeh

Big Ten lunchtime links

July, 12, 2013
End-of-the-week links.
Judge Louis Freeh on Sunday responded to the Paterno family report criticizing his investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Freeh called the Paterno family report "self-serving" and noted that Paterno's testimony to a grand jury shows a lack of appropriate action by him and other top Penn State officials after former assistant Mike McQueary informed Paterno of a 2001 incident between Sandusky and a boy in the showers of the Lasch football building.

From Freeh's statement:
I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not even attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.

Here's the full statement.

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier hasn't been charged in connection to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but Spanier may have already been convicted in the court of public opinion thanks to the Freeh Report.

Not surprisingly, Spanier is fighting back. His attorney, Timothy Lewis, held a news conference on Wednesday in which he blasted the findings of the report and called former FBI director Louis Freeh, who led the investigation at the school's behest, a "biased investigator" who produced a "blundering and indefensible indictment."

"There is nothing 'full or complete' about the Freeh Report," Lewis said. "Nor am I aware of any court in the land that would accept such unsupported and outrageous conclusions as 'independent,' or any judge who would put his or her name behind them. It is now apparent that Judge Freeh was not an 'independent investigator,' but a self-anointed accuser who, in his zeal to protect victims of wrongdoing from a monster, recklessly and without justification created victims of his own. ...

"The Freeh Report, as it pertains to Dr. Spanier, is a myth. And that myth, along with the free pass its author has enjoyed thus far, ends today."

Among other things, Lewis said Spanier was never told that Mike McQueary witnessed anything of a sexual manner involving Sandusky and a young boy in the infamous 2001 shower incident. Lewis also said Spanier received only two e-mails about the 1998 investigation into Sandusky that did not result in any criminal charges.

Lewis also claims that Freeh's staff was sloppy in its fact-gathering, did not interview key witnesses and failed to identify those witnesses it said it interviewed.

Spanier himself was not present at the news conference, and his attorneys took only a few questions. Spanier is scheduled to be interviewed on ABC News Wednesday night in his first public comments since the scandal.

A key question he'll need to answer relates to an e-mail uncovered by the Free Report in which Spanier says that not reporting the 2001 shower incident could leave Penn State "vulnerable." And maybe he can answer the most pressing question I have: if Spanier was unfairly blamed for the scandal, why hasn't he spoken about it until now? He has, after all, not been charged with a crime and has been free to try and clear his name.
Since Thursday's release of the Freeh report, most attention has been focused on the four senior Penn State officials -- Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and Joe Paterno -- deemed complicit in a major cover-up surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. While the school's board of trustees, which hired Louis Freeh and his investigative team, also has taken a beating for its failings, the anger seems to be directed elsewhere.

Tuesday night's report by colleague Don Van Natta Jr. puts the trustees back in the crosshairs. Van Natta reports that in November 2004, seven Penn State trustees proposed major reforms that would have strengthened their power over Spanier, then the university president, and other top officials such as Paterno. But the board never voted on the proposals. Three current trustees told Van Natta that Spanier and former board chair Cynthia Baldwin stopped the proposal from proceeding.
Joel Myers, a longtime trustee, said the Freeh investigators told him that if the good-governance proposal had been adopted by the board back in 2004, "This [crisis] could have been avoided."

Avoided is probably the wrong word as Sandusky committed many of his crimes before 2004 and Freeh's group showed evidence that top Penn State officials were aware of allegations as far back as 1998. But the reforms could have put a stop to things long before Sandusky's arrest last November.

From Van Natta's report:
"It was a big, missed opportunity," said Al Clemens, another longtime trustee. "Back in 2004, we just knew there wasn't enough accountability, and it seemed like a reasonable step to try to protect the university. It seemed like the right thing to do."
After the good-governance proposal was discussed in a private board session in 2004, at least four young boys were sexually abused by Sandusky. Two trustees who spoke on condition of anonymity said they fear the board's failure to adopt the good-governance proposal will be used by victims' lawyers in the negligence lawsuits against Penn State.
"This could increase our liability," a current trustee said, "possibly by millions."

The other key point is that Freeh's report had no mention of the terminated proposal. Although Freeh came down hard on the board in general terms, criticizing trustees for creating a culture of non-accountability, it seems odd he would have omitted such an important element from an otherwise thorough report.

This certainly raises more questions about the trustees, none of whom have resigned since the report came out, as well as Freeh and his investigative team.

Baldwin's attorney claims she didn't interfere with the board's consideration of the good-governance proposal.

Meanwhile, Penn State says it will respond within days to the letter NCAA president Mark Emmert sent to the school after the scandal broke in November. Emmert on Monday told PBS that major sanctions are very much on the table for Penn State football and sounded like a man poised to act.

"Let's wait for this process to unfold," Penn State president Rodney Erickson told the Associated Press. "President Emmert has said the NCAA will take a deliberate and deliberative process in addressing this, so I don't think we should jump to any conclusions at this point."

While many are calling for the NCAA to sanction Penn State for the 2012 season, such a move seems highly unlikely because of the protracted nature of infractions cases. It's more likely penalties from the NCAA would apply to 2013 and beyond than 2012.
Thursday's release of the Freeh report was the No. 1 story in all of sports, and the fallout regarding Penn State and four former senior officials, including ex-football coach Joe Paterno, elicited more than a few opinions.

Rather than saturate the lunch links with Freeh/Penn State stories, here's a sampling of what folks are writing.

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel: "There is little left of Paterno's legacy now. Little left of the icon who used his saintly reputation as a hammer of power to control his program and even cause Penn State to reverse course on stopping Sandusky."

The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins: "If Paterno knew about '98, then he wasn’t some aging granddad who was deceived, but a canny and unfeeling power broker who put protecting his reputation ahead of protecting children. If he knew about '98, then he understood the import of graduate assistant Mike McQueary's distraught account in 2001 that he witnessed Sandusky assaulting a boy in the Penn State showers. If he knew about '98, then he also perjured himself before a grand jury. Guilty."

The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh: "The NCAA should cancel football at Penn State until 2014 but allow every scholarship player to transfer without losing eligibility. Unfair and unjust? Ask the kid Sandusky abused in the shower in 1998 who Paterno referred to as a "liability problem'' — but never looked for — to define unfair and unjust.

The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' David Jones: "Throughout the last eight months in correspondence with Penn State football fans and alumni enamored with the late PSU coach, I have often been reminded of my father’s resistance to acknowledge the increasingly obvious evidence during the 1973-74 Watergate investigation and President Richard Nixon’s large part in the cover-up of the break-in. My father was not a stupid man. He was, however, prone to admiration of public figures who professed to share his beliefs. Sometimes, to the point that he would endow them with undue nobility. Finally, months after Nixon resigned in August 1974, my father acknowledged to me with some bitterness that the deposed president had 'screwed up.' That was about the best he could muster. But he knew. He saw. He opened his eyes. It will take some time for those who have adored Paterno from afar for so long to do the same."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Phil Sheridan: "Joe Paterno's reputation was not destroyed by Jerry Sandusky. His legacy was not permanently stained by Louis Freeh. It was Paterno who ruined Paterno. That was the painful and unavoidable message contained in Freeh's blistering report, which was released Thursday morning."

The Associated Press' Jim Litke: "Freeh acknowledged that in instances where investigators couldn't obtain witnesses or original materials, they looked at all the available evidence, applied their experience and judgment and arrived at "reasonable" conclusions. Some people, beginning with Paterno's family, have argued with conviction that such a standard sets the bar too low. Sad to say — especially from those of us who pleaded against a rush to judgment — but in a story from which the word "reasonable" has largely been absent, nearly every one of those conclusions rings true."'s Chris Smith: "Perhaps this is elementary, but shutting down the team will neither prevent further child abuse nor help those who suffered from it. In other words, such drastic action by the NCAA would serve only as a punishment, which raises a singularly important question: who will it actually punish?"

The New York Daily News' Kevin T. Mulhearn: "Joe Paterno was right in one sense. This story is not a football scandal. It is, rather, a human tragedy of breathtaking dimensions. Innocent children were scarred for life by a school's malicious indifference to their extraordinary pain. These children, bloodied, battered, and bruised, were the detritus … the stepping stone, for the gridiron glory forged on their backs. Like it or not, that is Joe Paterno's true and lasting legacy at Penn State."
ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr.: "Page after page, damning conclusion after damning conclusion, the Freeh report lays out the story of a stunning and systemic failure of leadership. The evidence contained in the report, including emails from 1998 and 2001 when Spanier, Paterno, Schultz and Curley concealed the Sandusky allegations, is devastating to the reputations and legacies of each."'s Stewart Mandel: "Penn State's was a particularly insular program, secluded not just from the rest of the campus but from the rest of the country (good luck finding a direct flight to State College on a game weekend). Its coach, as a result of sheer longevity, was the most powerful in the country, even into his 70s and 80s. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the biggest college scandal of our time took place at this particular university. But the lesson is that something this sinister could easily happen on any campus where "football runs the university." In fact, the circumstances are riper now than ever."

The Los Angeles' Times Bill Plaschke: "Read it and weep. Read it and heed. This is what happens when a university sports program becomes bigger than the university. This is what happens when a coach becomes more important than the ideals and values he is hired to coach. This is what happens when we are so blinded by the pursuit of athletic success that we stop looking closely at the leaders charged with taking us there."

USA Today's Eric Prisbell: "The conclusions of former FBI director Louis Freeh, who drew on more than 400 interviews and 3 million documents over a nearly eight-month independent investigation of Penn State's sexual assault scandal as requested by the school, have complicated and sullied the image of major-college football's all-time winningest coach."'s Dennis Dodd: "Pathetic. It is a football scandal because football was valued over all in sheltering, protecting and enabling a child molester. That was the epic conclusion of the Freeh Report. Penn State's top administrators, the boss' bosses, essentially took their orders from that head football coach.

AOL FanHouse's Lisa Olson: "Tear down the statue. Dismantle the frozen likeness of Joe Paterno waving to his admirers; rip it from its bronze base. Dump the parts in the Susquehanna River, throw them under a moving bus, it doesn’t really matter. Just get the odious image out of there. Then move onto the library and scrub away any remnants of Paterno’s name, because never again should the once-beloved coach have any hold over a community that once viewed him as an omnipotent king."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz: "To hell with a free Camaro. We're talking about sweeping allegations of a child sex offender under the rug in order to protect a school's image, fundraising and recruiting. There is no more extreme example of a lack of institutional control. Penn State deserves to be hit hard. That may seem unfair to the student-athletes, officials and fans who knew nothing of Sandusky’s acts or the cover-up. But that's the case with all NCAA sanctions."

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Penn State president Rodney Erickson and two trustees, board chair Karen Peetz and Kenneth Frazier, responded Thursday afternoon to the release of the Freeh report, accepting full responsibility for the school's failure but stopping short of announcing resignations. The trustees commissioned Judge Louis Freeh and his team to conduct an investigation that began in November and has cost the school $6.5 million to date, a school official confirmed.

All three officials expressed remorse at the school's actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. They also addressed Joe Paterno's role and his legacy at Penn State, the broken trust by former president Graham Spanier, what they should have done in hindsight and the steps being taken to recover from what Erickson called "the most painful chapter in the university's history."

The news conference became very contentious at times -- the first question: When will the trustees be resigning? -- and Frazier, who chaired the board's special investigation task force, became upset at one point (more on this later).

Here are some key quotes, notes and takeaways from what Erickson and the trustees had to say:

  • Peetz opened by stating that the trustees, as the body with "paramount accountability" at Penn State, accept full responsibility for the failures that happened in the Sandusky case. But she also made it clear that at this time, no one is stepping down. "We are not intending to resign," Peetz said. "We believe that we have a natural evolution of the board, by the fact that many new members join every year. We think the consistency is important." Asked whether former board chairs John Surma and Steve Garban should step down, Peetz said, "The [Freeh] report includes some information about individuals. We have yet to have a chance to explore all of the details." Frazier confirmed no one has been asked to resign since the release of the Freeh report. Peetz acknowledged the board is a large and diverse group, and said term limits will be discussed soon.
  • Some of the more interesting responses came when Peetz and Frazier were asked about Paterno. Peetz didn't mince words when asked about her reaction to what the Freeh report uncovered. "Our reaction is the clarity that's come out of the report, which shows that 61 years of excellent service that Joe gave to the university is now marred," she said. "We have to step back and say, 'What does that mean?'" Frazier added that the report found "inexcusable failures on the part of Joe Paterno and others to protect children. But I'd also say Joe Paterno did a lot of tremendous things in his life, and there's a lot about his life that's worth emulating. You have to measure every human by the good they've done, the bad they've done."
  • One of the big debates going forward is how the school will honor its former coach or whether current tributes, such as the statue outside Beaver Stadium, will be removed. "The whole topic of Joe Paterno being honored or not being honored is a very sensitive topic," Peetz said. "We believe that with the report's findings, this is something that will continue to be discussed with the entire university community."
  • [+] EnlargeRodney Erickson
    AP Photo/Rich SchultzPenn State president Rodney Erickson answers questions during a news conference in Scranton, Pa.
  • The only individual discussed more than Paterno was Spanier, the school's president from September 1995 until his firing in November 2011. Both Frazier and Peetz expressed disappointment that the trustees didn't push harder for answers from Spanier after the initial reports about Sandusky surfaced in March 2011. "We did ask President Spanier questions, we got answers," Frazier said. "What we can be blamed for, in hindsight, is we didn't probe more deeply after we got the first set of answers." And why didn't they? "We had a huge degree of trust in Graham Spanier," Frazier said. "He had been the president of this university for 16 years, and when we asked what was going on, we were assured there were no particular issues that the board needed to be concerned about. ... In retrospect, we were not appropriately pushing to get deeper answers."
  • Frazier became upset when asked why there wasn't more support from trustees following an April 2011 email sent by a trustee to Spanier asking for more information about a report about Sandusky in the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. "You're assuming the other trustees were aware of that [contact] between that trustee and President Spanier, which was not true," he said. "In retrospect, we wish we had pressed upon someone that we had complete trust in. The questions were asked, the answers were given. They were not complete, thorough, open answers. We could have asked more questions."
  • Erickson said the Freeh report puts Penn State in a better position to respond to the letter NCAA president Mark Emmert sent to the school in November. Erickson also addressed Freeh's comments about the football culture at Penn State, and its role in keeping the information quiet for so long. "We should be careful that we don't paint the entire football program over a long period of time with a single brush," Erickson said. "This particular tragedy happened within the football program, but it could have happened in many other places. These things happen in schools, they happen in churches, they happen in youth camps all over. The question is really, were there aspects about the football program that allowed some of these things to continue on? We will certainly look at that." Erickson added that football is "an important part of our whole educational process here."
  • Erickson confirmed that the contract of Mike McQueary, the assistant football coach who reported seeing Sandusky assaulting a boy in 2001, ended June 30. Asked about the status of Tim Curley, the athletic director on leave from the school, Erickson said, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. We've just had the report for a matter of a few hours. Any employment relationships with the university will be handled in the days ahead."

I'm off to State College for more reaction. Stay tuned.

Big Ten Thursday mailbag

July, 12, 2012
Hey, everybody. I'm back from my wedding and honeymoon, and while I can't say that I was following Big Ten football news that closely while vacationing in Europe, I am catching up. And what a day to come back, huh?

It's been a while, so I thought I'd celebrate my return with a slightly shorter version of the Thursday mailbag.

Kevin from Honolulu writes: "I TOLD YOU SO!" I've been saying the same thing on this board for the last 9 months and getting blasted for it most of the time, but let me say it again. ... JoePa ruled PSU with an Iron Fist, JoePa covered for Jerry to protect the program and his Legacy, this is just beginning (even with the release of this report) and is only going to get worse. Now, as to the PSU Board of Trustees and the NCAA that need time to determine how to "appropriately" respond to these findings. I already figured it out for you and posted it here months ago. ... JoePa=PSU=loss of institutional control=should Equal...NCAA Death Penalty Worse than SMU and USC combined. ...

Brian Bennett: Well, Kevin, it is interesting that I haven't heard much from all the JoePa apologists today. It's a tough day for them. I've been saying all along that I thought Paterno should have done more and that we needed to wait for more information to come out to make a final judgment on his responsibility. We got a whole lot of troubling information today that will forever taint Paterno's legacy. The Freeh report squarely put the blame for the Sandusky scandal on the cult of JoePa at Penn State. The Freeh report also contained a lot of tidbits that the NCAA could use to levy penalties if it so wanted. But I continue to believe that the worst we'll see from the NCAA is some sort of public reprimand. Enough damage has been done to the school's reputation, and the Freeh report could help ensure that Penn State pays out untold millions of dollars in civil lawsuits.

David from Chicago writes: From the beginning, the scandal at Penn State has highlighted a culture that cares more about its reputation than anything else. Time and again, decisions were made by the school to protect its image and by Paterno to protect both the school's image and his own legacy. Is it just me, or does the Paterno family's knee-jerk press releases pooh-poohing the Freeh report simply show nothing has changed? Their only interest is in protecting Paterno's legacy and the school's only interest continues to be its own reputation. Nothing has changed.

Brian Bennett: The most telling parts of the Freeh report for me were all the instances where administrators failed to do anything about Sandusky over fear of "bad publicity." It's clear to me that they didn't want to do anything that could cause any setbacks for the mighty football program, which had become so powerful that it engulfed everything else on that campus. I don't blame the Paterno family for trying to protect JoePa's reputation, and we must remember that Paterno cannot himself answer any charges in the investigation, which lacked subpoena power. But I do think the school has made several positive changes that could prevent this sort of thing from happening again, as long as it remembers what should be important.

Big Ten Fan from Big Ten Nation writes: Hi, Brian, I have a question for you. Let's say hypothetically that the NCAA does decide to do something about Penn State and it results in the death penalty. Obviously this would knock out one of the Big Ten's top programs and weaken the conference overall, especially the Leaders division. Would a death penalty for Penn State force the Big Ten's hand in expansion? Maybe get two teams to try cover up the gap left by Penn State? If that does happen, who would the Big Ten try to take and how would it affect the divisions as we know them?

Brian Bennett: First off, there's no way the death penalty is happening. The NCAA simply isn't going to do anything that drastic, and it serves little purpose. But to go along with your hypothetical, I think the Big Ten might just play with 11 as it used to. Truth is, there aren't many programs out there who would replace what Penn State brings in terms of prestige and potential. Short of landing Notre Dame or another brand name, any other replacement would do very little to strengthen the league.

Jeremy from Iowa writes: Iowa has had a few pretty good college QBs under Ferentz. Brad Banks is the only one who I would consider "great" in college football. Drew Tate and Ricky Stanzi are a few that is coming to mind. However, none of them have done anything at the next level. Stanzi is the closest, as he has been backup for the Chiefs. James Vandenberg is a more natural pocket passer than any that he has followed. Do you think he could be the first QB under Ferentz to get a starting job in the NFL?

Brian Bennett: Vandenberg has the size and arm strength to be a good NFL quarterback, and he's certainly fearless. (Wouldn't it be ironic if he got drafted by the Bears?). But he still needs to improve on several things to become a strong pro prospect. His completion percentage must get better after last year's pedestrian mark of 58.7 percent. And he's got to learn not to lock on his targets, which is something he should get to work on this year without Marvin McNutt. He could get there, but he's got a ways to go.

Adam from Phoenix, Ariz., writes: Great idea with the ranking of B1G football stadiums! However, my excitement has definitely swindled when all we get to see is you standing on the field with the the bleachers or a facade in the background. Now, it's like, what's the point? No offense, but I do not want to see you, LOL!! I want to see why stadiums are ranked where they are, a video tour of the stadium would be ideal. Give us something to look and wow at since these are the cathedrals of college football!Thanks.

Brian Bennett: Obviously, Adam and I shot our footage during our spring trips, and we thought it would be a nice feature for the summer. Unfortunately, we don't really have the technical equipment or manpower needed to do a full video tour of each stadium (we serve as our own cameramen most of the time while using a flipcam). But you can find plenty of video for Big Ten stadiums on school websites and other resources. We're trying to share our opinions and experience as to why each stadium ranks where it does.

Joe from Denver, Colo., writes: Like the updates for Bednarik and Maxwell. Though, I'm curious, what is the point of issuing watchlists? Does this award the selected players more media coverage versus those snubbed early on? As we know, a lot we cannot expect happens during the season. I'd be curious to know if there stats for the past several years for number of times it went to a player not on these pre-season lists. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett: It's a good question, Joe. Preseason watch lists are basically a relic of another era when college football needed to generate some interest in the offseason. That's not really the case now, and the watch lists have almost nothing to do with who wins the award. (Penn State's Devon Still, for example, wasn't on watch lists last summer but was an Outland and Nagurski finalist; same for Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, who won the Hendricks Award despite not making the preseason list). Players are usually nominated by their school's sports information directors. It's basically a sign of respect for a player's previous accomplishments or potential for the upcoming season. Other than that, preseason watch lists don't mean a whole lot, but at least they give you an idea of who are perceived as the top players in the country in the summer.

Jerome from Toronto writes: Hello, Brian. If the 4 team playoff were in effect this season with the strength of schedule truly a factor, which teams from the Big Ten would have strong enough schedules to definitely be considered? Which teams would be on the bubble? And which teams play too weak of a schedule that they would likely be eliminated from playoff consideration? Thanks!

Brian Bennett: Well, it's difficult to truly judge strength of schedule in the preseason, since we don't really know how good anybody will be. But we can make educated guesses. Michigan, naturally, would be in the best shape with games against Alabama and Notre Dame (plus Air Force, which could be good). Michigan State would be in decent position with games against Boise State and Notre Dame. Nebraska's schedule could also gain some respect, with sneaky-good games against Southern Miss and UCLA. Beyond that, the pickings are slim for strength of schedule arguments. Ohio State's top games are against California and UCF. Penn State's best are against Temple and Virginia. Wisconsin would have to hope Oregon State has a bounceback year. Any Big Ten team that goes undefeated would certainly make a four-team playoff, and it depends heavily on what happens elsewhere in the country. But if the argument came down to nonconference strength of schedules, only a few Big Ten schools would be able to brag about much.

Darren P. from Elk River, Minn., writes: Are there any more reasons as to why you think Jerry Kill is on the hot seat? Seems pretty thin to say that just because there is a new AD and his first year was not good, that he deserves to be on the hot seat. Recruiting is up, retaining local athletes is up, top talent is transferring to MN, and Kill is very well liked here in MN. He seems to grasp where the program is at, says the right things to the media, has a slue of coaches that have been here a while (indicating continuity, something lacking over the years), and works tirelessly with high school coaches to boost the program. Kill is very well liked (compared to Brew, its easy to be liked, I understand). Thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Darren, I don't think Kill is on the hot seat. You're probably referring to the article I linked from CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd ranking coaches' hot seats. Dodd had Kill in the "on the bubble, feeling pressure" category. I wrote at the time: "Kill won just three games last season and now has a new athletic director, so you could envision a scenario in which a disastrous 2012 campaign -- think something like 2-9 or 1-11 -- could make Norwood Teague trigger-happy." That's a worst-case scenario, and I don't think it will play out that way. I don't know Teague well, but he seems too intelligent to change coaches after just two seasons. Still, if Minnesota would have a really bad season and fan apathy were to affect ticket sales, especially if Kill had more problems with his seizures, the Gophers might have to think about the future long and hard. But I really believe Kill has the program on the right track and will show major improvement this season.

PHILADELPHIA -- Judge Louis Freeh on Thursday handed down a stinging report on Penn State’s actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, and it’s time to look at some of the key points he addressed.

Speaking before a packed room of media members and his own team that conducted an eight-month investigation, Freeh targeted four men at the top of Penn State's leadership chain -- former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley, who is currently on leave, and former football coach Joe Paterno -- as well as the school's board of trustees, which hired Freeh to conduct the probe but committed a "failure of governance" in creating an environment of non-accountability.

The most damning elements of the report concerned the knowledge Penn State officials had about allegations regarding Sandusky in both 1998 and 2001, and their failure to report it to outside authorities.

Here are some of the quotes and notes that stood out to me after attending the news conference:
  • Freeh clearly explained that the failure at Penn State went from top-level administrators to the janitors who cleaned and maintained the locker room at the Lasch football building, where Sandusky committed many of his rapes. "They [the janitors] witnessed what I think in the report is probably the most horrific rape that's described. And what do they do? They panic. The janitor who observed this said it's the worst thing he ever saw. This is a Korean War veteran who said, 'I've never seen anything like that. It makes me sick.' He spoke to the other janitors. They were alarmed and shocked by it. But what did they do? They said, 'We can't report this because we’ll get fired.' They knew who Sandusky was. … They were afraid to take on the football program. They said the university would circle around it. It was like going against the president of the United States. If that's the culture on the bottom, God help the culture at the top."
  • Freeh was somewhat diplomatic but remained on the attack when asked about both Paterno and the board of trustees. He stated several times that he wanted to speak to Paterno and believed Paterno had a case to make to the investigators. He called Paterno "a person with a terrific legacy." Freeh went on to say that Paterno "made perhaps the worst mistake of his life, but we're not singling him out." He also acknowledged Paterno could have stopped Sandusky's crimes because of the power he held. Asked whether trustees who held their positions during the period of Sandusky's crimes and remain in them today should resign, Freeh declined to comment, saying the question should be directed to the board. But speaking generally about the trustees, he said, "The board failed in its oversight of the senior officers of the universities. They did not create an atmosphere where the president and the senior officers felt they were accountable to the board." The board's failure continued all the way until Sandusky was charged, Freeh said.
  • Although Paterno undoubtedly will be the focus of the media coverage today and in the coming days, Freeh made it clear that others were just as culpable, if not more so. Spanier's actions, including his refusal to provide trustees with information, according to Freeh, were both shocking and embarrassing. Freeh discussed Schultz's 1998 confidential notes after being told of a complaint against Sandusky, "To ask the question, 'Does this open a Pandora's box? Other children?' is a very strong inference that they were focused not just on what the report was, but the implications." Spanier and Schultz both use the word "humane" in their emails discussing how to deal with Sandusky.
  • One of the big debates will be about the differences between what Freeh's group found regarding Paterno and what the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office included in its grand jury presentation. Paterno’s supporters will point to the fact that Paterno never spoke with the Freeh team, and the state didn't charge him after hearing his testimony about the 2001 incident involving Sandusky that assistant coach Mike McQueary relayed to him. "The attorney general has a different standard with respect to deciding whether to charge or whether not to charge," Freeh said. "We don't have a reasonable-doubt standard. Our conclusion … was a reasonable conclusion based on the facts and circumstances."
  • Arguably the biggest bombshell in the Freeh report concerns the 1998 allegations against Sandusky and what Penn State's leadership knew. This took place while Sandusky was still employed at the school. Freeh didn't find evidence of allegations in the 1970s or 1980s. Many of Sandusky's crimes took place between 1998 and 2002. "What's striking about 1998 is nobody even spoke to Sandusky, none of those four, including the coach, who was a few steps away," Freeh said.
  • Freeh briefly addressed the NCAA and Big Ten, saying that his group has been in contact with both organizations throughout the investigation but didn’t provide them with any of the findings before Thursday’s release. "What they find is going to be based on their criteria and their conclusions," he said.

The scene outside the news conference featured several attorneys of Sandusky's victims speaking to reporters, as well as several people who support Paterno and believe the real blame remains with Penn State's trustees.

Brian Masella, who played for Paterno at Penn State from 1971 to 1975, believes Paterno didn't purposefully withhold information about Sandusky.

"As a player, if we did anything wrong, he came down very, very hard on us," Masella said. "Obviously, this is a little bit different of a situation. [Freeh] made it sound like Joe was in charge of everything. He wasn't. He did not make a lot of the decisions on campus, like everybody thinks."

Larry Leise, who represents the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, places the blame with the trustees and said the only mistake Paterno might have made was following policy of how to report allegations.

"Maybe he should not have," Leise said. "As a football fan, a lot of times Joe Paterno was a little too strict on his playbook. You could always predict what he was going to do. He was very rigid. What he did was perfectly legal, what he thought in his heart was right. He just wanted to do what the law was and what the policies were. For that, I blame Penn State, I don't blame Joe Paterno.

"He's basically the good soldier following orders."

I'm off to the trustees' news conference in Scranton, Pa. Check back later for more.

Video: Freeh announces findings

July, 12, 2012
Former FBI director Louis Freeh announces his findings in the investigation of Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Freeh report on Penn State's response (or lack thereof) to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal is now available.

Here's the link to the full report. Needless to say, it's incredibly damning of Penn State's leadership and particularly four men: former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley, who is on leave, and former football coach Joe Paterno.

The most revealing element is that all four men were aware of a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky relating to a suspected sexual assault of a young boy in the showers of Penn State's football locker room.

Louis Freeh, the former FBI director commissioned by Penn State's trustees to conduct the investigation of the school, will address the media here at 10 a.m. ET. Here's a news release detailing some of what he'll say.

Here's a statement from Penn State's leadership and the school's trustees on the Freeh report. President Rodney Erickson and several trustees will hold a 3:30 p.m. ET news conference in Scranton, Pa.

Much more to come.
Like the NCAA, the Big Ten will take a close look at the Freeh report on Penn State's actions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, while continuing to monitor the situation.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany issued a statement to on Wednesday night stating that the league will continue its "prudent, thoughtful and patient review" of the situation. The report from former FBI director Louis Freeh will be released at 9 a.m. ET today, and Freeh will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia.

Here's Delany's full statement:
"The Big Ten Conference continues to monitor the investigative and adjudicatory processes associated with the Penn State matter and is prepared to review the report scheduled to be released on Thursday by Judge Louis Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP.
"As we have said from the beginning, the conference will reserve judgment until all information surrounding the various proceedings is made available. Various federal, state and other investigations, including the grand jury investigation, are still ongoing, certain criminal trials have yet to begin, and key principals have yet to testify.
"The unprecedented nature of these circumstances requires a prudent, thoughtful and patient review. Until the record is complete and has been thoroughly reviewed by our Presidents and Chancellors, we do not anticipate commenting further."

No major surprises here. A source tells that the Big Ten's own investigation of Penn State, launched by the league's presidents and chancellors in December, will last at least until the end of the summer. The Big Ten asked both Penn State and the NCAA for its own legal counsel to participate in investigations and reviews of the school. The league's presidents and chancellors said in a statement that they "reserve the right to impose sanctions, corrective or other disciplinary measures in the event that adverse findings are made in the areas of institutional control, ethical conduct and/or other conference related matters."

The Big Ten's investigation isn't contingent on the pending legal cases involving Penn State and could be wrapped up before those are completed.
Since the verdict came down in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial, much of the attention has been on whether the NCAA will punish Penn State for its role in the scandal.

The NCAA has been quiet about Penn State since announcing its investigation in November, but it told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Penn State will have to formally respond to questions from NCAA president Mark Emmert at some point. The NCAA offered no timeline on when the response would take place but said it has been collecting information from the investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

Freeh will announce his findings from an eight-month investigation Thursday morning.

The Freeh Report in many ways sets the course for how the NCAA and/or Big Ten could act regarding Penn State. If no specific NCAA rule violations surface, it seems unlikely the NCAA or Big Ten would impose sanctions on Penn State.

What seems likely is that the NCAA and Big Ten wait for all the major legal issues to conclude -- including the trials of former Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz -- before taking any action.
Judge Louis Freeh announced Tuesday that his report on the investigation into Penn State's actions surrounding the child sex abuse committed by former assistant football coach Jerry Sanduky will be published Thursday morning.

The report will be published online here at 9 a.m. ET Thursday. Freeh, the former FBI chief, will address his findings and recommendations at a 10 a.m. ET news conference in Philadelphia.

Penn State's board of trustees retained Freeh and his law firm in November to conduct an independent investigation of the university's actions. The report is expected to include information about the actions of officials such as former president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, former vice-president Gary Schultz and former head football coach Joe Paterno.

ESPN The Magazine's Don Van Natta reported last week that the Freeh report will shed light on the culture of the football program and will be "very tough" on Paterno, according to a source. Paterno's influence at the university and his approach toward player disciplinary issues is expected to be addressed. The report will likely play a big role in whether Penn State faces any disciplinary action from the NCAA and/or the Big Ten, both of which have launched investigations, but likely will follow the lead of Freeh's findings.

Spanier's lawyers issued a statement Thursday claiming their client was never informed of allegations of abuse by Sandusky. Spanier relayed this to Freeh during an interview Friday.

Both Curley and Schultz face perjury charges related to their involvement in a potential cover-up. Spanier has not been charged.
Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexual abuse charges on Friday night, but some are suggesting that Penn State needs to be punished for allowing Sandusky to commit his crimes. The NCAA and Big Ten announced they would investigate the school back in the fall. So Today's Take Two topic is this: Should Penn State be subject to punishment from NCAA or the Big Ten?

Take 1: Adam Rittenberg

The NCAA is under pressure to take action against Penn State because of the scope and nature of this story, but if it does, it will be an unprecedented step. Was there a lack of institutional control (LOIC) at Penn State that allowed Sandusky to commit some of his despicable crimes on university property? Without a doubt. But not in the context where the NCAA levels its most serious charge against an athletic program. The LOIC charge surfaces when an institution makes blatant major mistakes in relation to NCAA rules compliance. Although it sounds like a blanket term, it really relates only to NCAA rules. And unless the Louis Freeh investigation or other probes show Penn State knowingly violated NCAA rules, I can't see how the NCAA penalizes the football program. I spoke to a source this week who used to be an NCAA investigator, and he explained that it's a jurisdiction issue. The NCAA governs NCAA issues with an NCAA program, not criminal ones. It only imposes the LOIC charge during major rules infractions cases. If a coach gets a DUI or beats his wife, as bad as those things are, they aren't issues where the NCAA imposes penalties. So while LOIC sounds broad and vague, it really is specific in how the NCAA uses it. Could the NCAA and Big Ten take action against Penn State? Anything is possible. But it would be a step outside the jurisdiction, judging by past cases. Maybe such a case merits a step, but programs aren't punished for administrative failure and possible cover-ups relating to criminal activity. If no specific NCAA rule violation surfaces, I don't see how the NCAA takes action.

Take 2: Brian Bennett

The worst chapter in Penn State history is not over yet, as there is still the Freeh report and the potential perjury trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz to endure. Even more than the Sandusky trial, those proceedings may finally shed light on just what school officials knew about the Sandusky allegations and how they decided to act. It already appears that there was a shameful lack of responsibility, courage and moral fiber on the part of Penn State's leadership, and few people outside of the Nittany Lions fan base would be outraged if the NCAA took its pound of flesh from the school. While it may be popular to suggest that Penn State football get the death penalty, that's a specious argument and an outcome that would only really serve to hurt current players and coaches who had nothing to do with Sandusky's crimes. Those responsible should be and will be subject to criminal charges, and the school should lose a sizable chunk of its endowment in civil suits brought by the victims. The NCAA would set a very dangerous precedent if it imposed scholarship reductions or other types of its usual penalties in this situation since technically Penn State violated no NCAA rules. At the same time, the NCAA and Big Ten announced in the fall that they were launching investigations into Penn State mainly because they didn't want to be seen as sitting idly by during the worst college sports scandal ever, especially during a supposed climate of reform. That was symbolic then and suggests a course of action now. Both the NCAA and Big Ten should issue some sort of public reprimand for Penn State and let the court system take care of the rest.

Video: Penn State on internal investigaton

November, 21, 2011

Louis Freeh and Penn State trustee Kenneth Frazier discuss Penn State’s internal investigation into the child-sex-abuse allegations.