July report on Freeh recommendations shows quick action by Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials reported today (July 17) on the rapid implementation of all but one of the 119 changes recommended in a report compiled by independent investigator and federal Judge Louis Freeh in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Board of Trustees commissioned Freeh to look into the situation and identify ways to improve Penn State’s responses in the areas of safety and governance and to ensure the highest moral standards and integrity in academics and athletics. The Freeh Report, issued on July 12, 2012 , has resulted in 118 changes ranging from restructuring the governance of its Board of Trustees to expanding the University's Office of Human Resources, while expanding legal and risk reporting protocols.

While 115 of the recommendations are listed as complete, by their nature these changes are actually ongoing and continuous. For example, one recommendation asks that the University continue to benchmark its practices and policies with other similarly situated institutions and to focus on continuous improvement. Initial actions have been taken and these recommendations will continue to receive attention from the Administration Response Team, the Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees.

A complete status update on actions taken is available here.

The Freeh Report was produced by independent law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan, which was hired in November 2011 and investigated the University's response to the allegations against Sandusky.

Penn State receives initial Clery report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On July 12, 2013, Penn State received a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education based on the program review of the University’s compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety. The program review process, which was launched in November 2011, is ongoing. The Department of Education is required by statute to maintain the confidentiality of this preliminary report in order to facilitate the program review process. The University is committed to fully engaging in the review process and will maintain the confidentiality of the report. The Department of Education will make a final program review determination after this process is complete, at which time more information about the investigation can be made public. The review was sparked by allegations of sex offenses on campus by former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The Department of Education notified the University of the review in a Nov. 9, 2011 letter (http://www.psu.edu/ur/2011/DoE_Letter_110911.pdf ). Since that time, officials across Penn State have provided the review team with access to all requested records and information sources. In addition to unfettered access, Penn State also hired a full-time Clery compliance manager in March 2012, who has been working with leading Clery Act organizations across the country to standardize procedures, establish accountability protocol and create guidelines for individuals, including those identified as Campus Security Authorities, to follow. Penn State also has instituted a mandatory Clery Act training program for employees. The Clery Act requires all higher education institutions in the country to disclose certain information about campus crime and security policies. This includes issuing campus alerts, publishing annual security reports, disclosing missing student protocols, maintaining a daily crime log and a daily fire log, and publishing an annual fire report. The law is aimed at providing students, parents and the public access to safety information, as well as educating and training the university community and instituting policies that enhance safety and security. The federal law is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered by another student in her campus residence hall in 1986.

Penn State trustees approve resolution to make legal settlement offers

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. -- Today (July 12) Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution authorizing the University to make settlement offers to a number of individuals who have made claims against the University arising out of actions of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. This authorization is limited to offers recommended by the board’s Legal Subcommittee -- an arm of the board’s Legal and Compliance Committee -- within a range of dollar values described to the board in a confidential, attorney-client privileged session.

"Today's action is yet another important step toward the resolution of claims from Sandusky’s victims," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "As we have previously said, the University intends to deal with these individuals in a fair and expeditious manner, with due regard to their privacy."

Given the sensitivity of the process, University officials will have no further comment until the settlements have been finalized and mutually acceptable settlement agreements are executed and delivered. No settlement agreements have been signed and the discussions with counsel for the various individuals remain confidential. Penn State has no definitive timetable set for the signed agreements, but officials hope to conclude the process with the majority of the claimants within the next several weeks.

The law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP was retained to help facilitate the settlements. Feinberg Rozen has received national recognition for helping to resolve mass litigation arising out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.

Integrity monitor’s quarterly report notes Penn State’s continued progress

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sen. George Mitchell, the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State, issued his third quarterly report on May 31 regarding the University’s performance under the Athletics Integrity Agreement. The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the agreement in August as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA.
 
"This report validates the significant reforms that have been implemented over the past year, and reflects Penn State’s steadfast and ongoing commitment to integrity and ethical conduct,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “Our Board of Trustees has restructured its governance to be more open and efficient, and we are working to set the bar for our operations in human resources, security, athletics and compliance. There still is more to be done, but we are pleased that our efforts are being praised by Sen. Mitchell and his team, and by other external entities that have an interest in our progress.”
 
Mitchell’s position as athletics integrity monitor was established by the Athletics Integrity Agreement, a document that contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure Penn State continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.
 
The Mitchell report noted Penn State’s continued progress under the agreement, including the implementation of significant structural changes to the Board of Trustees’ governance and oversight procedures. Based on feedback from the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the Middle States Accreditation Commission and the Freeh Group, the board has implemented an expanded committee structure, more oversight, term limits and a new, stricter conflict of interest policy, among other changes. The report lauded the implementation of online training programs for compliance with mandated reporter laws and the Clery Act; and the recent appointment of Julie Del Giorno as Penn State’s athletics integrity officer, and Regis Becker as the new director of University ethics and compliance. Mitchell also noted Penn State’s significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Freeh Report.
 
Mitchell's team will continue its independent evaluation of Penn State's activities and efforts under the Athletics Integrity Agreement and the NCAA consent decree. Mitchell's five-year appointment as the University's monitor began in August, and a report outlining actions taken is produced on a quarterly basis. Mitchell's previous update was issued March 1.
 
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_3/.

Penn State not party to rumored lawsuit

A headline today in the Harrisburg Patriot News implied that Penn State is part of potential legal action that could be taken against the NCAA. To clarify, the University is not a party to any lawsuit against the NCAA that may be filed by the Paterno family. Penn State remains committed to full compliance with the Consent Decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. George Mitchell and recognize the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community.  Penn State maintains an unwavering commitment to excellence and integrity in all aspects of our University and continues to be a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud.

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