Penn State’s recent presidential transition won’t affect the way the university cooperates with the former senator appointed by the NCAA to monitor the athletics department.
That’s what university officials told Sen. George Mitchell this month, he wrote in his seventh quarterly report on Penn State’s athletics integrity progress in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Mitchell reported that he had met with President Eric Barron and his predecessor, Rodney Erickson, in May and that Barron promised continued support.
“Dr. Barron pledged that I would continue to receive complete cooperation from the university, as has been the case since the inception of my duties,” Mitchell wrote in the report.
Barron, who has been on the job for three weeks, said in a prepared statement that he is pleased with how quickly the university responded and how much it has accomplished in the way of compliance.
“Penn State has taken the recommendations seriously, has made enormous progress and has become a model institution for addressing issues like this,” he said. “We plan to remain on this track of continuous improvement.”
Barron, who has been visiting with newspaper editorial boards in recent weeks, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on Thursday that he thinks the university should be “rewarded” for the progress it has made.
The newspaper reported that Barron said he is hopeful Mitchell will recommend further easing of NCAA sanctions imposed against the university in the aftermath of the Sandusky child sexual abuse case.
Mitchell has been monitoring Penn State’s progress in adopting and carrying out a number of compliance, ethical and security measures for the athletic department. The measures were spelled out in the consent decree with the NCAA that authorized the sanctions against the university.
In his annual report last year, Mitchell praised Penn State’s progress and recommended the NCAA restore scholarships that were cut. Mitchell also suggested there would be room for additional sanction reductions if Penn State keeps up the good work.
Mitchell’s second annual report will be released at the end of the next quarter, which will more comprehensively review Penn State’s progress toward complying with the consent decree and completing long-term projects undertaken in response to the Freeh report, the university’s internal investigation into the Sandusky scandal.
In the latest quarterly report, Mitchell cited other steps Penn State has taken: