Tuesday, September 9

Analysis: AIA completed in 2012, Mitchell given add'l job to "look busy"

Many Penn Staters believed the NCAA's "corrective" action requiring PSU to enter into Athletic Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and Big Ten was a farce -- and were proven correct by George Mitchell.

Ray Blehar

Yesterday, George Mitchell's statements about "fostering an ethical culture" and "improvements it has instituted" as justification for lifting some of the NCAA sanctions are more of the continuing charade about PSU's out of control football program and culture.   As many Penn State alumni, friends, and fans know, there was never a culture or integrity issue with Penn State Athletics.  And Mitchell's reports have proven it.

PSU alumni, friends, and fans also were/are at a loss to understand why the NCAA hasn't required the AIA for all of the major athletic programs.  Given that PSU has yet to be cited for a major infraction, would it not be prudent to hold the other schools to an even higher standard than PSU?  Eight Big Ten schools have had major violations since 2000 as have 44 other programs outside the conference. Where are the AIAs for them?

Mitchell:  Little to nothing to do to monitor AIA.
As for George Mitchell -- he has the easiest job on the planet.   I have referred to him as the Maytag Man because he had little to nothing to do over the past year to monitor the Athletic Integrity Agreement (AIA).  Mitchell's first annual report, published September 6, 2013, revealed that ALL of the AIA recommendations were "substantially completed."

From the Introduction and Summary (page 1, unnumbered), of the report:

"As of this first anniversary of my appointment as Monitor, Penn State has substantially
completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh Report recommendations and of its
annual obligations under the AIA."

A review of the twelve AIA recommendations reveals there is perhaps a handful regarding compliance training and certifications that would be considered "annual" obligations. The remainder of the recommendations are ad hoc in nature and require a specific action to complete.  As of October 10, 2012, PSU reported that ten (10) of the recommendations were completed or substantially complete.  One of the substantially completes, the hiring of Julie Del Giorno as Athletic Integrity Officer, completed in January 2013.

However, of the two that were marked "in progress," the one regarding nationwide searches for coaches and new hired had already been going on in the Athletic Department since 2004  (as Lou Prato wrote in Blue-White Illustrated).   As I noted in this blogpost which criticized Mitchell's first report, the other recommendation regarding AD employees taking management training was not supported by evidence in the Freeh Report.

In summary, PSU was finished working on the AIA after 3 months and that left Mitchell with little to do.

Erickson: Part of the ruse.
When Mitchell's first annual report was published in September 2013, PSU and the NCAA would have had egg all over their faces if it was learned the everything demanded of the PSU to improve the "integrity" of the athletic department was accomplished.  I suspect that Mitchell's first report included the phony statement on "annual obligations" to make it appear there was more work to do. The phony statement also justified the partial reduction to the NCAA sanctions.  Erickson then added to the deception when he remarked:

“There is still more to be done, but we are very pleased that our efforts have been recognized by Sen. Mitchell in his latest report that validates the substantial reforms that have been implemented over the past 18 months." 

18 months? Perhaps for University reforms, but certainly not for Athletics, who didn't need to be reformed in the first place.  To this day it has yet to have a major NCAA infraction.

PSU "Alters" Freeh Report to Give Mitchell A Job

The PSU Administration added to the  language in the Freeh Report recommendations to give Mitchell "additional work" to do in monitoring the implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations.   Mitchell then cited this bogus requirement in both his first and second annual reports (footnote 1).

First Annual Report
One of the recommendations in the Freeh Report was for the University to appoint an
external monitor to evaluate the implementation of the other recommendations made in that
report. See Freeh Report, ch. 10, Recommendation 8.2. The University requested that I perform
this additional role rather than retaining a separate monitor, and the NCAA consented to that

Second Annual Report
One of the recommendations in the Freeh Report was for the University to appoint an
external monitor to evaluate the implementation of the other recommendations made in that
report. See Freeh Report, ch. 10, recommendation 8.2. The University requested that I perform
this additional role rather than retaining a separate monitor, and the NCAA consented to that
arrangement. This second annual review in my capacity as external monitor fulfills Freeh Report
recommendation 8.4.

Here is the actual language of the Section 8 recommendations -- which do not mention an "External Monitor" and, in fact, recommend an internal monitor.

As the "plain language" of Recommendation 8.1 reveals, the monitor was to be an internal person.  The notation in 8.1.2 "See Recommendation 1" does not refer to an external monitor.  Mitchell's reference to 8.2 doesn't make any sense, unless you examine PSU's original internal matrix on Freeh Report progress.  It is there that the "requirement" for an external monitor was added to the Freeh Report recommendations.

The truth is that it was the NCAA which called for an external monitor specifically for the recommendations in the AIA.  So why didn't Mitchell's report state he was hired as a result of the NCAA Consent Decree instead of playing along with the ruse that it was a requirement of the Freeh Report?

Yes, it's a rhetorical question.

History shows that George Mitchell was named on August 1, 2012 as the AI Monitor, however, by the time Mitchell arrived on campus much of the "work" to improve the integrity of athletics was "done."  Actually, it had been done for 61 years, but I digress.

So, here was Mitchell, apparently locked into a five-year gig by the NCAA with practically nothing to do.  PSU's solution was to give him a job monitoring the Freeh Report.  As you saw above, the Administration did a little sleight of hand to make that requirement "appear" then referenced it when providing justification for hiring him to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

PSU's response to Middle States, dated 24 October 2013 further elaborated on Mitchell's new role and it wasn't exactly honest about his first three reports either.

"With the consent of the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, the University engaged Senator Mitchell’s firm, DLA Piper, LLP, to provide the external review referred to in Freeh Recommendation 8.3 of the University’s efforts to implement the recommendations. Senator Mitchell’s interim quarterly reports to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, issued in  November 2012, March 2013 and May 2013 pursuant to, and in accordance with, the Consent Decree and the AIA, reported on the University’s progress toward implementation of the recommendations.
Senator Mitchell’s fourth quarterly report, issued in September 2013, reported more fully on the University’s efforts to implement these Recommendations and, with the consent of the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, constituted the 12-month progress review required by this Recommendation."

Athletic Monitoring Provided Little Work For Mitchell

Two of his first three reports, issued in November 2012, March 2013, and July 2013 were not specific to the AIA (as Erickson lied about above).

While a computer glitch appears to prevent viewing the November 2012 report on the DLA Piper web-site, the other two reports were available for review.

The 30-page March 2013 report consisted of 5 pages specific to the AIA, 14 pages focused on Freeh Report recommendations outside the AIA, while six pages were dedicated to issues not specific to the AIA or Freeh Report.

The May 2013 report contained approximately 1.5 pages that addressed the AIA, while pages 5-22 (17 pages) focused on the Freeh recommendations.  Another six pages were dedicated to issues not specific to the AIA or the Freeh Report.  Note that part of every AIA report is essentially a one to two page status report the Athletic Integrity Officer, Julie Del Giorno, thus the AIA portion of the May 2013 report focused only on Ms. Del Giorno's activities.

The September 2013 report (the 4th, which resulted in the initial reduction of sanctions, contained 7 pages addressing the AIA, 22 pages on Freeh Report recommendations, and 8 pages on issues not specific to the AIA or the Freeh Report.

The latest report contains 9 pages addressing AIA issues, 30 pages related to the Freeh Report recommendations, and the remaining ten pages are related to issues outside the scope of the AIA and the Freeh Report.

Conclusion - Mitchell's work should be reduced to an annual audit

Each report contains a section on the Monitor's activities.  In the latest report, Mitchell's team attended a variety of meetings, went to York Campus to monitor compliance with background checks for a youth soccer camp, monitored facilities security upgrades, and collected progress reports on implementation from PSU, noting that it has received over 47,000 pages of information.

From reading the reports, it appears that PSU officials are providing the majority of the text for the reports and Mitchell's team is simply repackaging the information (much like Freeh appeared to do with the OAG grand jury presentment and supporting data).

Also, the reports reveal that the whole AIA appears to be little more than a "make work" activity.  The AIA Official and others hired for that purpose spend most of their time engaged in working on and monitoring the new requirements.  Moreover, the new requirements have undoubtedly heightened awareness of reporting of NCAA rules violations, which led to more reports of minor and secondary violations (e.g., a scholarship athlete accepted a bagel with cream cheese), which again requires more work by the AIA staff  to make formal reports to the Big Ten and NCAA.

Emmert: Consent Decree's over the top
sanctions required over the top monitoring
The reports also revealed there is very little need for an external auditor/monitor to be engaged continuously and provide quarterly reports on progress.  The Freeh Report recommendations were for the monitor to provide annual reports.  That recommendation was sufficient, but apparently trumped by the NCAA Consent Decree, which required the overkill of quarterly reports.

The bottom line is that PSU was "forced" by the NCAA to waste money on the monitoring of the AIA and then the Administration added to the "waste" by expanding Mitchell's role to include quarterly monitoring of the Freeh Report recommendations.  The Administration also wasted money in permitting Mitchell to report information outside the scope of the AIA and the Freeh Report.  However, I have little doubt that PSU didn't mind paying for the additional pats on the back from Mitchell.  It was/is all part of the ruse.

It appears President Barron has decided to maintain the status quo of wasteful spending, which includes untold amounts of monies that are spent to keep the truth hidden.


Responsible stewardship of PSU's funds demand that Mitchell's excessive reporting be curtailed and his role be reduced to that of performing a single, annual audit of compliance with the AIA and the Freeh Report recommendations.

Moreover, the University should be reimbursed for Mitchell's work outside the scope of his engagements.

The Board has shown that it has no regard for this wasteful spending, as a third party, the Legislature should file suit against Mitchell (as provided for in the Consent Decree) to recover taxpayer funds regarding the alleged work outside the scope of his engagement.


  1. What exactly was he supposed to monitor? PSU has always been a leader in just about all areas of athletics, graduation rates and W/L records. I have tried to read as much as possible, but I seem to be missing the specifics to how we have improved! I have always thought the athletic program in total, all sports has been a leader in all the areas like grad rates etc.. To me it just seems to be another giant waste of time and money.

    1. Bob,
      You hit the nail on the head...nothing for Mitchell to do and a giant waste of money.

    2. Traditional bureaucratic steps to create a façade of action when very little needs to be done. A play out of the Bureaucracy play book, "NCAA &BOT," had to con the public into believing they had recognized a serious problem and developed an intricate and thorough process to correct the problem. Then lay out a plan of corrective action with authoritive oversight,

      Or as they call it on the street, "Smoke and Mirrors" with things in the end remaining much the same but with different terminology invented and or applied.

      Bureaucrats hope that nobody ever really scrutinizes the rhetoric and of course they can count on they media to buy in. It almost worked for the OAG until you and others kept pulling back the current!!!

      Keep it up, they count on wearing you out or breaking the bank.

  2. Dear Ray,
    The Steroid Enhanced Integrity Monitor,.
    I'd say some serious performance enhanced “Irony.”
    Take the money and run baby.

    “Count de Monet Mitchell”

    kind sarcastic regards,

    Chuck O'
    State College