Paterno apology hinges on Freeh report, education secretary says

State College - Centre Daily TimesMay 16, 2012 

Ron Tomalis, Pennsylvania’s secretary of education and an ex-officio member of Penn State’s board of trustees, said the board will wait until the Freeh report is issued before deciding whether to apologize to the Paterno family for how the university handled the firing of the former coach.

Tomalis was asked about an apology after his remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County in College Township on Tuesday.

“(We’ll) see what comes out of the Freeh report,” he said in response to the question. “I don’t want to speculate about what may or may not happen in the future.”

Tomalis, who along with Merck CEO Ken Frazier is co-chairman of former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, said he is looking forward to seeing the final version of Freeh’s report, which he said will guide the university through its time of crisis.

Joe Paterno, college football's all-time wins leader, lost his job along with then-Penn State President Graham Spanier after the allegations against Sandusky were made public in November. Paterno died in January.

“It’s a retrospective to see what actually occurred in the university in 1998 and 2001,” he said. “It will also better the structure of the university and the board to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Tomalis said the board welcomed the three new trustees elected to the board earlier this month.

“There’s going to be some recommendations that will be coming before the board and we’re looking forward to those new voices joining the conversation that we’re having,” he said.

Tomalis said the main purpose of the Freeh investigation was to ensure nothing like the scandal that has rocked the university through the past seven months happens again.

“The purpose of naming the Freeh Group is to take a look at what happened, the situations that allowed that to happen, and ways to make sure the structure is in place — the governance is in place — to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Tomalis said.

Dave La Torre, a spokesman for Penn State, said when reached late Tuesday that he could not provide a comment about trustees’ plans.

Cliff White can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @CliffWhiteNews.

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