UNIVERSITY PARK — Board of trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz said Saturday that Penn State’s response to the Louis Freeh report will include “establishing more central control over both the human resources and the compliance functions throughout the university.”
The trustees are in a weekend retreat that included Saturday’s public session and another today at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Portions of the meetings are open to the public.
“We are entering a new era of high standards of corporate governance, where the university’s — and this board of trustees’ — deliberations and actions are open and transparent,” Peetz said in her opening statement. “Except for limited sensitive, legal or individual personnel matters, the board meetings will be open and available to all.”
The Freeh report was produced by former FBI director Louis Freeh after his group’s investigation of Penn State’s response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts in June.
Three rows of chairs were filled by public attendees, but they weren’t addressed or given opportunity to speak.
Trustees Vice Chairman Keith Masser outlined the “structured response” Penn State will take to implementing Freeh’s recommendations for the university.
The response teams will be made up of trustees and administrators and will also include an external response team to monitor the process.
But it is the job of the university to work on implementing the 119 recommendations, and the trustees will provide oversight, Peetz said, adding that not all of the recommendations will necessarily be implemented.
Trustee Ken Frazier said later in a smaller meeting of the Joint Committee on Audit and Risk and the Committee on Legal and Compliance that he sees the recommendations as guidelines that don’t need to be strictly followed. It was the first public committee meeting.
“We’re following the spirit here, not the letter,” he said.
Peetz seemed to reference Friday night’s report that Sandusky Victim 1’s attorneys had filed a lawsuit against the university seeking damages related to the Freeh report’s findings that top university officials knew of Sandusky’s crimes in 2001 but did not report them to authorities.
“These months ahead may be less shocking, but they may well be more difficult as the legal ramifications of this tragedy continue to play out,” Peetz said. “We must be prepared to address these issues head on.”
Trustee Joel Myers read a statement challenging the NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State as a result of the Freeh report.
Those penalties include a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and the loss of football scholarships, and the vacating of all football wins from 1998 to 2011.
Myers received a prolonged standing ovation after his statement.
Myers asked why NCAA doesn’t require integrity monitors for all universities, which also drew applause from the crowd gathered to watch the meeting.
Trustee Keith Eckel countered by saying that while he feels the sanctions were unfair the university needs to move forward and stop looking back. Eckel said accepting the penalties is part of that process.
“I urge my colleagues to devote every ounce of our energy toward this university moving forward with its mission, and that is educating our youth,” he said.
The board of trustees will hold a public session today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 207 at The Penn Stater. The meeting will be live-streamed online at www.wpsu.org/live.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan