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Board of Trustees approves terms of proposed NCAA lawsuit settlement

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – By a unanimous vote, the Penn State Board of Trustees on Jan. 16 approved the terms of a proposed settlement of the lawsuit relating to the Endowment Act. According to the settlement, the July 2012 Consent Decree between Penn State and the NCAA has been dissolved, and all punitive sanctions eliminated.

Under the terms of the new agreement:

-- $60 million will be dedicated in Pennsylvania to helping children who have experienced child abuse and to further prevent child abuse. Of the $60 million, the Commonwealth will receive $48 million to help provide services to child victims.  Penn State will use $12 million to create an endowment that will be a long-term investment in expanding our research, education and public service programs to help eradicate child sexual abuse.  All parties agree strongly that caring for victims and providing support for programs that help address the problem of child sexual abuse is of paramount importance.
-- The compromise restores 112 wins to the Penn State football program.
-- All other punitive sanctions also have been eliminated.

To see a recap of Penn State President Eric Barron's comments during a post-board-meeting press conference, visit http://pennstatermag.com/2015/01/16/president-barrons-comments-on-the-ncaa-settlement/.

Barron and Penn State Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Masser also have released statements on the matter:

Statement by President Eric Barron:

"Penn State is pleased that state Sen. Jake Corman, state Treasurer Robert McCord and the NCAA have agreed to a settlement of the lawsuit relating to the Endowment Act. According to the settlement, the University and the NCAA will enter into a new agreement that supersedes and dissolves the Consent Decree.  We thank the parties for their efforts on this difficult issue. The settlement has several important elements.

“Sixty million dollars will be dedicated in Pennsylvania to helping children who have experienced child abuse and to further prevent child abuse. Of the $60 million, the Commonwealth will receive $48 million to help provide services to child victims.  Penn State will use $12 million to create an endowment that will be a long term investment in expanding our research, education and public service programs to help eradicate child sexual abuse.  All parties agree strongly that caring for victims and providing support for programs that help address the problem of child sexual abuse is of paramount importance.

“The compromise restores 112 wins to our football program.  I know that all Penn State alumni will be gratified to see these 112 wins restored. These wins belong to the student-athletes, Coach Paterno and his staff, who represented Penn State both in the classroom and on the football field. All other punitive sanctions also have been eliminated.

“The compromise also recognizes the fact that the NCAA, as well as the Big Ten — which is a party to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, had a legitimate interest and concern about the Jerry Sandusky matter.  Based on the overarching principles that govern both membership organizations (including the institutional control of athletics) and conversations with my fellow presidents that make up the governance of the NCAA and the Big Ten, I am convinced that they acted in good faith. I believe that the NCAA leadership had a good faith concern about and desire to address the issue of institutional control in this case.

“Penn State will continue our dedication to compliance and ethics that sets a national standard for athletics integrity as outlined in the Athletics Integrity Agreement.

“I want to thank Sen. Corman, Treasurer McCord, and the NCAA for their efforts to bring about an outcome that is in the best interest of Penn State.  I also want to thank the hard-working students, staff and faculty at Penn State who have ensured the highest level of compliance and ethics.  Finally, I want to make it clear that we have a tremendous alumni community that cares a great deal for Penn State. It is my hope that this agreement will continue the healing process for all.”

Statement from Board Chairman Keith Masser:

“I'm pleased all parties have reached an agreement, and I would like to thank Sen. Jake Corman and Treasurer Robert McCord for their efforts. Sen. Corman has been a tireless advocate for the Penn State community for many years, and his leadership has helped our University in tremendous ways.

“This agreement is good for Pennsylvania and the University. It will keep $60 million here in Pennsylvania for the fight against child sexual abuse, and it restores all football wins from 1998-2011.

“I am proud the University went beyond the requirements of the consent decree in the interest of the safety of children and students on our campuses, and to ensure proper oversight of University personnel. Those efforts twice led to the unprecedented rollback of sanctions.

“Penn Staters show every day that we are a compassionate community that remains dedicated to the service of our students and communities.”

Upholding the promise of confidentiality: why it’s the right thing to do

By Eric J. Barron
President
Penn State University

The materials behind the Freeh Report have been the subject of intense media interest. Penn State’s alumni-elected trustees have requested the ability to review the materials, and I am planning my own review. The trustees seek the review under the provision of the law governing non-profit entities that enables directors and trustees of nonprofit corporations to examine materials for specific purposes related to the performance of their duties. In this regard, I want Penn State employees to know the university will protect individual anonymity of the people interviewed by the Freeh team “to the maximum extent possible” under the law. I intend to sign a strict confidentiality agreement, and have asked our attorneys to redact or withhold any piece of information that could reasonably lead any reviewer to know its source. The same restrictions would apply to other trustees. I believe strongly that this must be a condition of review.

This is important for two vital reasons.

First, our employees and others were promised confidentiality in return for their willingness to be interviewed. We need to protect employees from being targeted for providing candid comments, and it is unlikely many would have participated without such a promise. This is standard practice in any independent investigation, for good reason.

We have all seen the way this issue has polarized the community. I myself have spoken out about the lack of civility by some in public discourse, and the ways in which people on all sides of the issue have been attacked for expressing their views. The people who were interviewed are parents, are active in the community, have children in our schools and run businesses.

We cannot in good conscience subject them and their families to the possibility of heckling while out in public, or vicious attacks on social media. How would any of us feel in similar circumstances? We have already heard that the request for the investigative materials has sent a chill through the hearts of many employees.

Second, to break the promise would have a long-term negative impact on our university.

The Sandusky grand jury presentment raised concerns that some at the University feared retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. Since that presentment was issued, our university has substantially bolstered the number of ways that an employee can report crimes and concerns, many with the promise of confidentiality or anonymity. Yet, in a recent ethics and values survey, many staff and faculty still indicate concern about retaliation even with the implementation of multiple avenues of reporting and much higher visibility of its importance. We still have work to do. We need to foster trust and encourage employees to speak up when they encounter something concerning them.

So, imagine the damage that would be done to future reporting of wrongdoing if we break such a highly visible promise. It would undo much of the valuable work at Penn State designed to provide employees safety in reporting inappropriate conduct.

I do understand that sometimes, to the public, protecting employee confidentiality and asserting privilege doesn’t sound good. It seems counter to the value of transparency. However, we have laws to keep our medical records private. Reporters have the right to protect their sources. These and other confidentiality protections support the right to privacy, and aid important investigations.

Clearly, there are times we must give the highest prominence to confidentiality commitments. This is one of those times. The negative consequences for future reporting of wrongdoing are too great.

Integrity monitor cites Penn State’s continued progress in new report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State is continuing to successfully carry forward initiatives launched in response to the recommendations of the Freeh Report, according to the ninth quarterly report tracking Penn State's progress in meeting the goals of the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA) signed by Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. The complete text of the report, including information about actions Penn State has taken, is available at https://www.dlapiper.com/~/media/Files/Insights/Publications/2014/12/NCAAMonitorsNinthQuarterlyReport.pdf.

U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who was named by the NCAA as the independent monitor for Penn State to oversee the AIA, has provided quarterly updates to the University and general public on the University’s compliance with the agreement. In the most recent report, Mitchell said, "Penn State's administration has remained fully cooperative (with the monitoring process) throughout this time."

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

Among activities reviewed by Mitchell during this reporting quarter:

-- Penn State released the results of the Penn State Values and Culture Survey, conducted to better understand the University’s core values and culture.

-- The University released a draft statement of values, generated as part of the Values and Culture Survey process. The report cited continuing efforts in this area to socialize the draft statement of values.

-- The Office of Ethics and Compliance continued to work with stakeholders across the university to address new legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly that will affect multiple Penn State policies and procedures and to deliver training on the protection of minors on campus.

-- Penn State continued to implement the remaining outstanding long-term Freeh Report recommendations, including the adoption of a Human Resources Information System (“HRIS”), and the institution of physical security measures at athletic and recreational facilities.

-- The Office of Ethics and Compliance also continued in its work to develop and publish a code of responsible conduct, and to adopt a new policy on gifts and entertainment, and hired a specialist who will coordinate and oversee applicable training programs across the University.

-- Athletics Integrity Officer Julie Del Giorno conducted quarterly meetings of the Athletics Integrity Council and with the Big Ten Conference as required by the AIA, with a continued focus on developing and delivering training and education to student-athletes concerning ethics and integrity.

-- Adoption of governance changes by the Penn State Board of Trustees on Nov. 14.

Members of Mitchell’s teams also attended meetings of the Board of Trustees in September, October and November; met with members of the Advisory Council for Continued Excellence; met with the president’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Task Force; and participated in meetings related to the continued implementation of security measures at athletic and recreational facilities.

“This reporting period, we observed progress in effecting governance reform, promulgation of Penn State’s new values statement and Code of Responsible Conduct, implementation of facilities security projects, attention and adherence to the AIA, the continued expansion of the Office of Ethics and Compliance, and efforts to bring Penn State’s child abuse policies into conformity with new Pennsylvania laws taking effect on Dec. 31, 2014,” Mitchell said.

In the coming quarter, Mitchell’s team will monitor the implementation of required changes to policies, procedures and trainings related to child abuse and background check obligations. Among other areas of focus will be ongoing efforts to develop an ethical decision-making model and to socialize the new Penn State values; implement the forthcoming recommendations of the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Task Force; and further develop the University’s compliance office.

Statement from Penn State President Eric Barron

In response to recent calls for an examination of the Freeh Report, Penn State President Eric Barron said he will conduct a review of the report and materials from the investigation.

STATEMENT BY PENN STATE PRESIDENT ERIC BARRON

On Friday, I informed the University's Board of Trustees that I will conduct a thorough review of the Freeh Report and supporting materials produced during the course of the investigation. The contents of the report have led to questions by some in the Penn State community. I do not want people to believe that Penn State is hiding something. I feel strongly about this. For this important reason, and since I was not here during its completion, I will conduct my own review. There is considerable documentation to analyze, but I assured the Board I would move with all deliberate speed.

Eric J. Barron

Statement from Penn State related to NCAA emails discussing proposed sanctions

Statement from Penn State officials related to public release of internal NCAA emails discussing proposed sanctions against Penn State.

We find it deeply disturbing that NCAA officials in leadership positions would consider bluffing one of their member institutions, Penn State, to accept sanctions outside of their normal investigative and enforcement process.

We are considering our options. It is important to understand, however, that Penn State is in the midst of a number of legal and civil cases associated with these matters. We therefore have no additional comment.

We also want it to be clear: Penn State’s commitment to the fight against child abuse and to the implementation of best practice governance, ethics and compliance programs and policies remains steadfast.

Eric Barron
President

Keith Masser
Chair, Board of Trustees

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