The restoration of Penn State's and Paterno's football wins is another loss in the NCAA's battle to remain relevant. The NCAA's losing streak isn't over, but Mark Emmert seems to think he can still "bluff" the public into believing he and a small cabal at the top of the NCAA legitimately punished PSU.
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Logic dictates that yesterday's NCAA's settlement agreement to restore the wins was a tacit admission that the Freeh Report got it wrong. Not that the NCAA would ever admit to anything logical (see the former NCAA rule on bagels and cream cheese).
If the Freeh Report was right, Paterno was aware of Sandusky's proclivities and covered it up for a period of 14 years. Penn State had knowingly harbored a pedophile. And if the NCAA's contention was correct, that Paterno covered it up so his teams would gain a competitive advantage by avoiding bad publicity about an assistant coach -- then Paterno was a truly despicable individual. An individual who put his own self-interest above the welfare of children.
It all that is true, there is no way that the NCAA should have even considered restoring Paterno's wins.
But yesterday, we learned that the truth wasn't what Freeh or the NCAA said it was.
The truth -- even though the NCAA is likely never going to admit it -- is that the Freeh Report was wrong (about just about everything) and so was the NCAA's half-baked reasoning that PSU gained some competitive advantage from avoiding (potential) bad publicity about a retired assistant football coach.
The truth also is that the PSU Board of Trustees Special Investigations Task Force (SITF) and the NCAA knew that the Freeh investigation did not uncover any violations of NCAA rules. They also knew that the Freeh investigation found no evidence that Graham Spanier, Timothy Curley, Gary Schultz, and Joe Paterno engaged in a cover-up of Sandusky's behaviors. The incidents in 1998 and 2001 were reported outside of the University -- in other words, there was no "concealment."
Evidence obtained in my investigation shows that the NCAA received substantive updates about the Freeh investigation. In January 2012, the NCAA learned that PSU's Athletic Department officials were "fastidious about rules violations." Upon learning it, they decided to "wait for Freeh Report."
Although the NCAA and the SITF both dubiously claim that they did not see a draft of the Freeh Report, the substantive updates let them know in advance the report was going to be a big nothing-burger.
Based on the end notes in the Freeh Report and emails between Ken Frazier and Ron Tomalis, the Freeh investigation had essentially wrapped up in May. The draft report was ready to go and all that was left was for the Sandusky trial to confirm the information in the draft was correct.
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blew a whole in the Freeh Report.
Instead of compelling evidence based on a Count 7 guilty verdict, the Freeh Report had to rely on flimsy email evidence and cherry picked comments that Paterno had influenced the alleged non-report of Sandusky in 2001. Anyone who actually read the email (save for Sally Jenkins), knew that there was nothing in it. Moreover, anyone who has actually read the Freeh Report knows there is nothing in it. The only way the NCAA and the SITF knew that Freeh could put his sham report over on the public was to ensure that few people would read it.
The way forward was a well-choreographed, over-the-top press conference featuring Louis Freeh lying about what his investigation found and about things that never happened on PSU's campus. An unfortunate, and perhaps planned, server crash kept the Freeh Report from being distributed in advance.
praised Freeh Report
Immediately following the press conference, SITF co-chair, Ken Frazier dishonestly praised the Freeh Report:
“We thank Judge Freeh for his diligence in uncovering the facts over the past eight months and issuing such a comprehensive and thorough report...”
Penn State's dishonest commentary and acceptance of the Freeh Report opened the flood gates for opinion columns that were light on facts and high on condemnation of Penn State and Paterno. It also cleared the way for the NCAA to pile on to Paterno and the football program.
The depositions of Donald Remy and Bob Williams revealed that the NCAA didn't accept the Freeh Report. The deposition of Ed Ray showed he didn't bother to read the full report either. Instead, the NCAA used PSU's acceptance of the report and Rod Erickson's admission that the report was evidence of a lack of institutional control to justify sanctioning PSU.
The NCAA's restoration of the wins yesterday confirmed what it knew it knew in July 2012.
The Freeh Report was wrong about Paterno and Penn State.