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.
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/.
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.
Penn State released today (May 9) another signpost in its ongoing quest to meet most of the 119 recommendations spelled out in the Freeh Report, a document created in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse committed by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The recommendations in the report, which identify ways to improve Penn State’s responses in the areas of safety and governance, have been followed carefully by University administrators and members of the Board of Trustees who continue to evaluate and review all areas of the University identified in the report as having some need for improvement. Penn State has already changed or implemented numerous administrative policies and procedures; hired new safety and compliance personnel; restructured the governance of its Board of Trustees; expanded its Office of Human Resources; implemented background checks; expanded legal and risk reporting protocols; and a host of other initiatives all aimed at enhancing operations at the University.
For a complete status update on actions taken, visit http://progress.psu.edu/assets/content/FreehReportUpdateMay2013.pdf.
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. The group was led by former FBI director and federal Judge Louis Freeh.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees adopted structural changes to their governance and oversight procedures today (May 3), as recommended by the Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning, taking suggestions from the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the Middle States Accreditation Commission and the Freeh Group.
“This review is, in fact, a work in progress. The charter, bylaws and standing orders of the University are not static, nor are they intended to be,” said James Broadhurst, the committee chair. “In fact, we’ve made revisions or changes to those documents more than 20 times in the past 12 years.”
Broadhurst discussed the most significant newly adopted reforms, most of which were spelled out at the March Trustees meeting during the committee’s public session:
— The governor of Pennsylvania and president of the University now serve as ex officio non-voting members of the board. Previously, both had voting rights.
— The president no longer holds the positions of secretary of the board; the secretary will now be an elected position.
— Three-year term limits were extended from elected trustees, to all trustees (appointed and elected) other than ex officio members. Term limits for Trustees (other than ex officio Trustees) will be 12 consecutive years, effective with terms beginning July 1, 2013, or after.
— The number of voting Trustees is reduced to 30: nine trustees are elected by alumni; six trustees are appointed by the governor; six trustees are elected by organized agricultural societies in the state; six trustees represent business and industry endeavors and are elected by the Board of Trustees; and three trustees are ex-officio members that include the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources of the Commonwealth.
— Previously, the provision for term limits did not apply to the chair or vice chair of the board, but that exception was removed for the vice chair position.
— The waiting period for former University employees to serve on the board was extended from three to five years.
— There is now a five-year waiting period for Commonwealth “row officers” to become trustees.
— A section describing the necessary process for the removal of a trustee, if need be, was added.
— The quorum requirement was modified from 13 to a majority of the voting members.
— Selection of the Executive Committee (comprised of 13 members) is now specified to chairs of each of the newly formed six standing committees, the chair and vice chair of the board, the chair of the Board of Directors of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the immediate past chair of the Board of Trustees and three at-large members nominated by the Governance and Long-Range Planning Committee and elected by the Board of Trustees.
— The board also strengthened its comprehensive conflict of interest policy.
Broadhurst noted that the board implemented other changes in the past year, including the expansion of the committee structure from three to six standing committees plus the Executive Committee, as well as four subcommittees; refinements of term limits; increased constituent representation at committee meetings, including faculty, staff and students; opportunities for public comment at the meetings and an established hotline so anyone can communicate with the board; and hiring a University director of Ethics and Compliance with a dual-reporting relationship to the Board of Trustees and the senior vice president for Finance and Business.
“With these collective changes, practically all of the auditor general’s recommendations and to the extent they relate to the organizational documents, the Freeh Group’s recommendations, have been dealt with in whole or in part,” Broadhurst said.
The Board of Trustees website at psu.edu/trustees has full details of the Charter, Bylaws and Standing Orders.