Steps taken by Penn State that led to easing of NCAA sanctions

mdawson@centredaily.comSeptember 24, 2013 

NCAA leaders lauded the Penn State for implementing changes in the way the university operates when the organization announced Tuesday it would gradually restore scholarships lost to the sanctions.

Penn State leaders, over the course of the past year, have worked to implement numerous reforms that have touched many parts of campus, such as Old Main, the athletics facilities, the human resource offices across all campuses and the residence halls that fill with children during the summer.

Here are a few examples of what Penn State has done over the past year that led to the NCAA easing up on the scholarship component of the sanctions:

•  Penn State hired a slew of folks, as recommended in the Freeh report. For instance, there’s a Clery Act coordinator to handle the university’s compliance with the federal Clery Act, which mandates that certain crimes be publicly disclosed. Another position was the chief ethics and compliance officer. The university also hired additional to staff to expand its Office of General Counsel.

•  Penn State has publicized its employee misconduct hotline, with the most recent notice going out by university list-serve at the start of the fall semester. The hotline saw four times the number of calls, from 40 in 2011 to 159 in 2012. As of the end of August, the hotline had received 124 calls.

•  Penn State changed a policy so that adults cannot have one-on-one contact with minors on campus. Two adults need to be present now.

•  Penn State had an inventory taken of all summer programs, and the inventory is to be updated periodically. A youth programs compliance specialist was recently hired, too.

•  New hires must complete background checks under a new policy adopted by the university.

•  Penn State’s board adopted governance changes that lowered term limits for trustees, expanded a conflict-of-interest policy and restructured its committees. The board continues to weigh the future of its governance, and the board’s committee on governance and long-range planning will hire an expert to help with evaluating what will work best for Penn State, such as the optimal size of the board and other hot-button issues.

•  The athletics integrity agreement allowed for the hiring of the integrity officer and called for annual training on NCAA, Big Ten and Penn State rules and regulations.

•  Penn State is working to develop a new human resources information system, and the university says the scope of this project will carry over into 2014. It’s one of the recommendations that has not yet been finished.

•  Penn State has trained more than 10,000 employees on recognizing the signs of child abuse.

•  Penn State has restricted access to athletics facilities.

Penn State officials said at last week’s board of trustees meeting that they want the reforms to become institutionalized, or a part of the fabric of the university. As a result, the hope is the university come out of the shadows of the Freeh report, the officials said.

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