The Penn State board of trustees may have voted down a request to review the Freeh report, but a faction of the board isn’t taking that as a final answer.
In recent votes, a division has arisen between the nine alumni-elected trustees and the rest of the board, who were appointed by the governor or came from business and industry or agricultural nominations. In addition to reviewing the Freeh report, the university-commissioned investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the elected trustees have taken stands on board reform that have been quashed by the majority.
As of Sunday, they are picking a new battle. They want to review the Freeh report documents themselves.
They sent a letter to Chairman Keith Masser requesting “the files related to the creation of the Freeh report.”
“We have a very clear fiduciary obligation to verify the veracity of the information used by Louis Freeh to condemn the culture of Penn State,” said trustee Anthony P. Lubrano.
Lubrano originally requested the documents in March but was denied. He said he backed off the request because he was a party to one of the lawsuits against the university and the NCAA in the wake of the college sports organization’s sanctions, which used the Freeh report as their basis. However, Lubrano has since been removed from the suit by the court. After the Freeh report review was denied by the full board, he did say he would be making a new request.
What he did not expect was that President Eric Barron would be reviewing the report as well. Barron announced that he would be looking at the Freeh report after the November trustees’ meeting.
“The fact that Eric Barron requested them, too, is irrelevant to our purpose,” said Lubrano, claiming that the responsibility of the trustees is not the same as the president’s.
“As voting members of the board of trustees, we have an even greater responsibility to undertake this review,” said trustee William Oldsey in a statement.
In that release, the trustees call the Freeh report, released in July 2012, shortly after Sandusky’s conviction, “challenged by many as deeply flawed and substantially incomplete.”
Those calls have grown more pronounced in some circles since emails released in Commonwealth Court, part of state Sen. Jake Corman’s lawsuit to enforce the Endowment Act, have pointed toward “bluffing” on the part of the NCAA to get Penn State to accept unprecedented punishment.
“Louis Freeh and his report greatly damaged the reputation of Penn State,” said trustee Albert Lord in the release. Lord called for the review that the rest of the board voted down in October. “As fiduciaries of Penn State, we have both a legal as well as a moral obligation to ask questions about such an inherently incomplete work product.”
“We believe we are in breach of our duties if we do not undertake this review immediately,” the trustees wrote to Masser, requesting a response by Monday.
Lubrano said that, in particular, he is interested in the notes from interviews with Penn State personnel. Several of the interviewees have spoken with him, he said, and were concerned that they were not permitted to see the notes from their interviews to verify them.
“For all we know, there is significant misrepresentation or exculpatory information that Louis Freeh chose to ignore,” said Lubrano.