NCF Nation: 20120712 Freeh Report

Top PSU recruit in 'holding pattern'

July, 22, 2012
From ESPN Recruiting Nation:
The father of Penn State-committed and No. 1-rated quarterback prospect Christian Hackenberg reiterated his confidence Sunday in the football program as the NCAA prepares to announce sanctions against the school.

At the Elite 11 finals here with his son, Erick Hackenberg said that he and Christian spoke with Penn State coaches last week.

First-year Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and recruiting coordinator Charles London remained optimistic, Erick Hackenberg said, in talking with he and Christian after PSU officials met with the NCAA in the past few days.

Christian Hackenberg, a 6-foot-4, 212-pound rising senior at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, pledged five months ago to sign with O'Brien and the Nittany Lions next February as part of their 2013 recruiting class.

"It's very important, in our eyes, just to see how it plays out," Erick Hackenberg said. "A lot of people would walk away from it. That's not us. You don't want to walk into the firing line, but this is example of a time where you don't base your decision off the immediate reaction."
Continue reading here.
The NCAA has scheduled a news conference Monday to announce "corrective and punitive measures" for Penn State.

NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, chair of the NCAA's executive committee and president of Oregon State University president, will address reporters at 9 a.m. Monday at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

A high-level NCAA source tells that Monday's announcement would be "significant," although the source couldn't confirm whether the NCAA and Penn State had reached an agreement on penalties.

Colleague Joe Schad reports that the NCAA's board granted Emmert unprecedented authority to impose penalties rather than going through the normal infractions process. The penalties will be severe, Schad reports, and could include a postseason ban and scholarship losses. While the so-called "death penalty" is unlikely to be imposed, the penalties could be more severe in the long term.

The sanctions aren't self-imposed or negotiated, Schad reports.

Needless to say, this is a highly unusual step in an highly unusual case. Typically, NCAA infractions cases are drawn out, featuring letters, responses and hearings. The only official action taken regarding Penn State and the child sex abuse scandal is a letter Emmert send to Penn State president Rodney Erickson back in November. Erickson said last week he would respond to Emmert within days.

Emmert told PBS last week that major sanctions, including the so-called "death penalty," remain on the table for Penn State. If this is any sort of joint agreement, it makes sense for Penn State to be proactive and not simply let Emmert or the Big Ten drop the hammer.

Much more to come.
For decades and decades, Joe Paterno belonged to Penn State. Since November 2001, so did the Joe Paterno statue.

Paterno's fame extended far beyond Happy Valley, as college football fans and even non-fans marveled at his win-loss record, his "Grand Experiment," his longevity and his backstory. But the man made the most profound impact on the campus and in the area where he coached football for 61 years. To students and residents of the region, he was their coach, their father, their grandfather, their hero.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
Michael R. Sisak/Icon SMIA fixture outside Beaver Stadium for more than a decade, the statue of Joe Paterno was removed on Sunday.
Never was this clearer than in the past 10 days, as Penn State weighed whether to remove the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium in the wake of the Freeh report, which found Paterno culpable in an extensive cover-up surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Paterno supporters visited the statue, left flower bouquets and notes, and snapped countless pictures, often mimicking the statue's pose -- one finger raised.

Several of the statue visitors I spoke to on my recent visit to State College not only voiced their support for the statue to remain but also said the decision on its future is, unquestionably, a Penn State decision. They acknowledged the mistakes Paterno made in the cover-up and the overwhelming sentiment outside the Penn State community to remove the statue immediately. But external pressure didn't matter. Joe Paterno was Penn State, they said. Penn State, and no other judge or jury, should decide the statue's fate.

Penn State rendered its verdict Sunday morning, as university president Rodney Erickson announced Paterno's statue would be removed from the platform on the west side of Beaver Stadium where it has stood since November 2001. They brought out the jackhammers, placed a towel over the statue's head and used a blue tarp to cover the surreal scene. Less than 90 minutes after Erickson released his statement, the statue had been removed. Time of death: 8:20 a.m. ET.
I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.

The key phrase: "across the nation and beyond."
The world will be watching how Penn State addresses its challenges in the days ahead.

In the end, this was more than a Penn State decision. It was bigger than that. And while Erickson had to consider the campus community, he couldn't make the decision in a vacuum. The scope of the scandal had gone far beyond State College.

I thought the statue had to go as soon as the Freeh report came out. I also respected the feelings of many Penn Staters to have it be a Penn State decision. It was a more understandable position than the blind loyalty some still had for the former coach.

David Jones, a terrific columnist for The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, recently wrote:
A lot of people are yelling a lot of declarations about the statue who have no emotional investment in the school; they just want to be noticed. I think the opinions of all interested Penn State alums and students should be the driving force in what happens to the statue, not national windbags trying to get ratings and Twitter followers.

He's right, to a large extent. Joe Paterno and the Joe Paterno statue belonged to Penn State. But Penn State could no longer make these decisions with only itself in mind. You could argue that's exactly what Paterno and three other top school officials did for years and years while Sandusky continued to abuse children on school property.

Penn State's image has been damaged, and keeping the Paterno statue would only reinforce the perception that the school can't acknowledge the gravity of the scandal. Some argue the statue also would represent the many good things Paterno did during his Penn State career. That's a very tough sell when the statue -- next to the inscription "Educator, Coach, Humanitarian" -- appears on every pregame show and before and after commercial breaks on nationally televised broadcasts of Penn State games.

According to Louis Freeh, Paterno and the other Penn State officials kept quiet about Sandusky in large part to prevent a PR backlash against a powerhouse football program. Erickson's decision Sunday also had Penn State's image in mind, but for much more sensible reasons. Although the statue's removal will cause some short-term backlash, keeping it would have been a long-term disaster.

Those who feel the statue's removal ignores Paterno's positive accomplishments at Penn State need to walk over to the school's library. It will continue to bear Paterno's name, Erickson confirmed Sunday, and it should. I hope many Penn State fans and others make the Paterno Library a stop on their game-day visit to State College.
The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno's commitment to Penn State's student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on the University. Thus I feel strongly that the library's name should remain unchanged.

Although the statue debate gained a ton of attention -- more than 13,700 votes were cast in our poll about it -- there are much, much bigger issues at Penn State. The NCAA on Monday will announce significant penalties against the school.

The world continues to cast the spotlight on Penn State. It's good for the school that the statue won't be in it.
Longtime Penn State trustee Steve Garban, who chaired the board in 2011 when the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal became public, resigned from his post Thursday.

Garban had come under fire following last week's release of the Freeh report, as several trustees blamed him for failing to alert them about the investigation into Sandusky in April 2011, seven months before it became public. In a resignation letter to board chair Karen Peetz, Garban wrote his "presence of the board has become a distraction and an impediment to your efforts to move forward."
During last week's two-day Board of Trustees meeting in Scranton, Pa., several trustees confronted Garban and urged him to resign for the good of the board, three trustees with knowledge of the episode said. Garban, a 14-year board member and chairman of the board when the Sandusky investigation became public last year, had refused. But three trustees with knowledge of this week's discussions with Garban, including several conversations by Peetz herself, said he was persuaded today to resign. "He did the right thing," said a trustee who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This should help people see we are trying to move forward."

Garban is the first trustee to step down since the release of the Freeh report. Will he be the last?
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.
The Joe Paterno statue, located on the northwest side of Beaver Stadium, has been one of the most-discussed topics in the wake of Louis Freeh's scathing report on the failures of top Penn State official, including Paterno, to stop child rapist Jerry Sandusky.


What should Penn State do with the Joe Paterno statue?


Discuss (Total votes: 13,747)

Many have called for the statue's immediate removal, including former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, while some others, including Penn State running back Silas Redd and Penn State fans/students I spoke with for this piece, want it to stay. One student I met Thursday night at the statue said, "If it's really coming down, all hell's breaking loose." Penn State's trustees on Thursday said no immediate decisions have been made on the Paterno statue or how to honor or not honor Paterno.

"We feel honoring coach Paterno is a sensitive issue," Penn State board of trustees chair Karen Peetz said. "It's going to take a lot of dialogue with the community. We want to be reflective and take our time. There's not a timeline or deadline. That's not necessary. It's going to take a lot of discussion."

Penn State issued a statement on the statue Sunday, saying no decision has been made on its future.

ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. reported Saturday that the trustees will leave the statue standing for now, and some hope, forever. Not surprisingly, though, there's disagreement among the group.

From Van Natta's story:
"You can't let people stampede you into making a rash decision," a trustee said. "The statue represents the good that Joe did. It doesn't represent the bad that he did."

Although some trustees said in discussions Thursday and Friday in board meetings in Scranton, Pa., they believed the statue eventually would have to be torn down, most quickly reached a consensus it should remain standing in the coming weeks and months, trustees and a person briefed on their discussions said. Some trustees went even further, insisting Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., never should be removed.

"It has to stay up," said another trustee. "We have to let a number of months pass, and we'll address it again. But there is no way, no way. It's just not coming down."

What do you think Penn State should do? You couldn't blame the school for wanting to distance itself from Paterno as the former coach's legacy has been marred by what's come to light. The national demand is strong for the school to act, and act now.

On the flip side, Paterno's positive accomplishments at the school cannot be ignored. As one fan told me, "He donated a lot to the library and so forth. What are they going to do, knock the library down?" While there's no way Penn State names its stadium after Paterno, the school could keep it existing tributes.

Penn State could wait until things have quieted down a bit to make a decision. Or the school could wait until after the trials of former officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.

Time to vote. Make yours count.
The legacy of Joe Paterno absorbed another blow Saturday as the New York Times reported that the late Penn State coach sweetened his contract at the school amid the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

The Times' Jo Becker writes that in January 2011, Paterno and his superiors began discussing a new contract for the coach that would pay Paterno $3 million if he retired following the 2011 season. These talks occurred during the same month Paterno testified before a grand jury about his former assistant Jerry Sandusky, convicted last month of sexually abusing children.

Paterno's contract had been set to go through the end of the 2012 season. His amended contract was finalized in August and agreed to by then-Penn State president Graham Spanier. It included perks such as the use of Penn State's private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for the next 25 years. Wick Sollers, an attorney representing the Paterno family, told The Times that many of the perks existed in previous contracts for Paterno.

Penn State's board of trustees reportedly had no knowledge of the renegotiated contract until Sandusky was charged and arrested in November.

From The Times:
Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
In the end, the board of trustees -- bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno's family -- gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million. Documents show that the board even tossed in some extras that the family demanded, like the use of specialized hydrotherapy massage equipment for Mr. Paterno's wife at the university’s Lasch Building, where Mr. Sandusky had molested a number of his victims.

You can make your own judgments here, but the curtain of Penn State's culture of secrecy -- and the powerful role Paterno and the football program played into it -- is gradually being lifted.

Video: A failure of leadership

July, 14, 2012

Jeremy Schaap weighs in on the Freeh report and restoring the reputation of Penn State.

Video: Penn State begins healing process

July, 14, 2012

Jeremy Schaap has the latest from Penn State, including the possibility of the school removing former coach Joe Paterno's name from the university library and taking down his statue in front of Beaver Stadium.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The day after Louis Freeh and his investigative team exposed Penn State's ugliest scar, one that never can be concealed, a different side of the school revealed itself.

Across University Drive from the football complex where Jerry Sandusky raped children while others did little or nothing to stop him, Penn State football players gathered on the school's lacrosse field to flip tires, push vans, toss medicine balls through goalposts and raise tens of thousands of dollars for a worthy cause. Friday marked the 10th annual Lift for Life, a strength and conditioning challenge run by the organization Uplifting Athletes, which raises funds to help fight kidney cancer.

Founded by three former Penn State players, including Scott Shirley, whose father, Don, died of kidney cancer in 2005, the Lift for Life event has raised more than $600,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association since 2003. There are now 15 Uplifting Athletes chapters run by college football players around the country who hold similar fundraising events to fight rare diseases. But Shirley, a 2003 Penn State graduate, regards Penn State's event as "kind of like my Christmas," even though it took place following the university's Day of Atonement.

"This isn't in response to anything, this isn't trying to prove anything," Shirley said. "This is something that has happened for 10 years naturally, because it's what we do. It's part of our culture."

Similar events like THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games, held annually here, are also part of Penn State. So, too, are the heinous crimes Sandusky committed and the massive cover-up that Freeh said four senior leaders, including former head football coach Joe Paterno, engineered for years.

Penn State is a campus in contradiction. For the rest of this story, click here.

Video: Bowden says remove Paterno statue

July, 13, 2012

Bobby Bowden says Penn State should remove the Joe Paterno statue and discusses Paterno's legacy.

Video: Scandal's impact on recruiting

July, 13, 2012

Tom Luginbill discusses Penn State recruiting in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Podcast: Schad on NCAA's Freeh reaction

July, 13, 2012
ESPN reporter Joe Schad discusses the NCAA's reaction to the Freeh report on Penn State, Joe Paterno's legacy, Bill O'Brien and more.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- As the sun set on a dark day in Happy Valley, Matt Williams and his friends decided to pay Joe a visit.

Wearing Penn State T-shirts, Williams and his three companions approached the Joe Paterno statue flanking Beaver Stadium. Until their arrival, the statue had been by itself. A Penn State traffic unit officer, in place to prevent any vandalism and to keep cars moving along Porter Road, was the only one there. Few folks had stopped by, the officer said, and there were no problems. Two flower bouquets rested at the base of the statue.

Williams and his friends snapped pictures on their smartphones and posed, even copying the statue's pose -- one finger raised.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno Statue
Adam Rittenberg/ESPN.comThere have been demands to have the Joe Paterno statue removed with the release of the Freeh report.
"We just thought it was necessary, considering the actions that happened today with JoePa's name getting put out there," said Williams, a junior at Penn State who grew up in nearby Altoona. "We just wanted to come show our support. Even though his name's getting dragged through the dirt, we're still supporting him and we still love Penn State."

There was another reason they visited the statue. They don't know how much longer it will be there.

The release of the Freeh report on Thursday painted Paterno, the late Penn State coach, in an extremely negative light. Judge Louis Freeh and his investigative team concluded that Paterno, along with three other senior Penn State officials, had knowledge of the heinous crimes committed by former longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky but did little to stop them.

Paterno's legacy has been "marred," in the words of board of trustees chair Karen Peetz. And many are demanding that Penn State remove the statue of its iconic coach.

"To take his shrine down, that would be the most disrespectful thing you could do," Williams said.

They think it could happen. Not this weekend, as thousands of people descend on State College for the annual arts festival. But maybe before the season kicks off in September.

And if it did?

"It would be worse than November," said Ashley Patton, who visited the statue with her sister, Taylor, a Penn State sophomore. "For sure."

November brought mass rioting and demonstrations, mostly by Penn State students, in the wake of Paterno's firing.

Penn State's campus had a much different vibe Thursday after the release of the Freeh report.

"It was very somber," Williams said. "And you got a little bit of closure because they came out with the final report. November was just insane."

Taylor Patton followed Thursday's news, mostly on Twitter, and was saddened by the report as well as the condemnation of Paterno.

"We do process it," Patton said. "We're saying it doesn't make him a bad person. He could have done more. We all know that. But think about everything that he's done for Penn State. You can't just make him out to be a bad person for one thing he did, when he's done so much for this university."

As the four friends left, several groups of others arrived to take pictures and pose. One man shouted, "JoePa, forever!" as he walked away.

Explained Williams: "It's a Penn State thing."

Penn State statements on the Freeh report

July, 12, 2012
Dave Joyner, acting director of athletics: "Earlier today we received, along with the general public, a first look at Judge Freeh’s final report. I have read the report, and will continue to review it in closer detail in the coming days. The report concludes that individuals entrusted to positions of authority, shunned the basic responsibility to protect children, and innocent children suffered as a result. Moving forward, we must do everything within our capacity to restore trust in Penn State, and the Athletic Department will play a central and leading role in that process. Through these difficult times, we remain committed to the highest ideal and embodiment of the student-athlete, and we will emerge a stronger institution."

Bill O’Brien, head football coach: "Today we received the results of the Freeh Group’s investigation into what transpired at Penn State. I am carefully reading the report, and recommendations with respect to the football department, including any gaps that may exist, to identify what changes can and should be made. I stand with the University leadership in a shared commitment to driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution. We can and we must do better. Nonetheless, I, too, remain proud of the accomplishments and character of Penn State’s many generations of student-athletes, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure we emerge stronger than before."