Congressman Charlie Dent's column (Penalties at Penn State are not justice) not only took on the NCAA for its overreach in sanctioning PSU, but the editorial writers who have piled on PSU without due process. As I've noted in several blogs, newspapers and the media in general too often take the allegations made by law enforcement officials at face value and assume guilt immediately. As we saw in the Duke Lacrosse and Richard Jewell cases, the media got it wrong -- badly.
They got it wrong about PSU too. However, the stakes regarding the media's rush to judgment in the PSU case are much higher than at Duke or in the case of Richard Jewell because the well-being of Pennsylvania's children hangs in the balance.
Media and Victim's Advocates Miss the MarkWhile there appears to be little argument among the media that keeping the $60 million in Pennsylvania to assist with child welfare programs is worthwhile -- that is only because the media has refused to actually report on the failures of the Commonwealth's child welfare system. These failures were abundantly clear in the Sandusky case, but government officials from the DPW were given a pass based on a blatant falsehood reported by the Patriot News.
|PCAR: Wrong focus in aftermath of Sandusky case|
It was the DPW staff who determined Sandusky was not abusing the two children he naked bear hugged in 1998. And 15 years later, in December 2013, DPW officials didn't see any signs of abuse in the Tutko home. Jarrod Tutko, Jr. paid the ultimate price just eight months later.
Does anyone seriously believe that a call to DPW about Sandusky in 2001 would have stopped his abuse? When the call was made in 2008, it didn't stop then. At least two more children were abused, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane. As I noted yesterday, the DPW fails to protect children when called in to investigate abuse cases around 40% of the time.
Task Force Duped by the Media
|A review of DPW investigative|
practices is sorely needed.
If PSU pays the fine money, the first dollar should be used to conduct this sorely needed review.
The 11/9/11 BOT ActionsAs Pennsylvania's flagship University, it must demand that the Commonwealth fix its child protection system. The promises made by President Erickson and the PSU BOT that PSU would become a leader in child abuse prevention were hollow at best, given that the Board (and its hired gun, Louis Freeh) would not speak out about the failures of DPW related to the Sandusky case. As I noted yesterday, BOT member Kenneth Frazier gave DPW a complete pass when pressed about its 1998 failure by Al Clemons, but in the next breath stated that PSU officials should have recognized the abuse.
The irony in that statement was simply overwhelming as was his earlier statement "that all responsible and caring adults have a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the children in their communities." As if calling for improvements to the Commonwealth's and local child protective services would not be the most fundamental step we could take to make children safer?
The Freeh Report simply took what was in the grand jury presentment, the evidence collected by law enforcement, and repackaged it into a report that would have received a failing grade if turned in as a college term paper. The PSU BOT, led by Ken Frazier and Karen Peetz, then embarrassed the University by accepting Freeh's dubious report without providing a single comment or requesting any corrections to the record. The failure to provide oversight and to take seriously its duty of fiduciary responsibility was clearly lost on the BOT and those deficiencies remain among the 11/9/11 holdouts.
It is also quite amusing that the NCAA President, Mark Emmert stated he read the report three times and he too did not find anything deficient (e.g., Appendices 1, 4, 7, 8, and 9 were missing from the report). While Emmert proved his mettle for academics as President of LSU and Washington, how does one care to explain that the report was accepted by the NCAA Executive Board? A group of 20 college presidents and chancellors and three athletic directors apparently didn't read past the Executive Summary.
So much for the state of higher education in the United States.
The bottom line about the Freeh investigation was that is was clearly a case of it being far from independent and too much aligned with the Attorney General's prosecution (and perhaps too much influenced by Governor Tom Corbett).
The Board also quickly lined up behind the Attorney General's prosecution, rather than support President Graham Spanier, who rightly defended Curley and Schultz against unsupported allegations of failure to report child abuse and perjury. The significance of that decision cannot be understated given Frazier's role at Merck in fighing the Vioxx lawsuits. PSU pushing back against the baseless charges of the AG should have been a "no brainer."
|Surma had no valid explanations for the Board's decisions|
perception of PSU's guilt in the minds of the public.
The inner circle repeated its ill-fated decision making again on July 12, 2012 when Frazier and Peetz accepted the Freeh Report and then again on July 23, 2012 when it permitted Erickson to sign the NCAA Consent Decree.
It seems highly unlikely that a group of accomplished corporate executives could make that many bad decisions without some other driving motivation, such as their own self-interest (or preservation).
Ongoing Investigations and Litigation May Fill in the Blanks
|Frazier'sand Peetz's remarks were irresponsible.|
Al Lord's motion at the last meeting was right on the mark.
The Freeh investigation needs to be completed and the the sunlight needs to shine brightly inside Old Main. However, Lord's motion for the completion of the investigation is not really up to the Board (and the Old Guard will likely shoot down his motion anyway). I also don't think Al intended for Louis Freeh to return to PSU to finish what he started.
The fact of the matter is that we will eventually learn what was behind the decisions of the 11/9/11 trustees and part of that will be learned from the Paterno vs. NCAA lawsuit. In addition, the defamation lawsuit filed by Spanier against Louis Freeh will also provide an opportunity to finally hold the former FBI-director accountable for his reckless behavior in this case. Between the two cases, the Board, the NCAA, the Big Ten Conference, and the Attorney General's roles will be revealed.
The pending Federal investigation may also shed light on what was behind the decisions of the Board as it pertains to the financial and other relationships with The Second Mile charity. The Patriot News already reported (with little fanfare) that the charity chose to cover-up Sandusky's 2008 abuse finding and keep the public, its board, and its donors in the dark. In 2001, when PSU made a report of Sandusky's behavior to the charity in 2001, the charity did not act. These are indisputable facts that will eventually result in criminal charges against Second Mile officials.
Finally, the pending trials of Curley, Schultz, and Spanier may provide the final piece of the puzzle, but it is more likely that the Federal investigation will obviate the need for their trial. The cover-up was not the work of Spanier, Curley, Schultz, and Paterno, but there are many other people who had their hands in the Sandusky mess.
There is indeed a "conspiracy of silence" surrounding the Sandusky scandal, but it never involved Joe Paterno or the three PSU officials who are currently facing charges.
Wednesday's Meeting is a Chance for President Barron
|President Barron could make his mark.|
While I am not optimistic that the Old Guard is willing to change, this public meeting is the first real opportunity for President Barron to show the PSU community what kind of leader he is going to be.
I will be tuned in tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM listening to every word.