Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Penn State leaders move to meet NCAA obligations for athletics integrity

Penn State has fulfilled one of the obligations of the NCAA’s consent decree — an athletics integrity agreement with that organization and the Big Ten.

The agreement, posted on its website Wednesday, makes provisions for adopting recommendations relevant to the athletic department in the Freeh report as well as appointing an athletics integrity officer and an athletics integrity council.

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell was appointed to oversee this process as an independent monitor.

“Penn State is a world-class institution that prides itself on excellence in academics and athletics,” said university President Rodney Erickson in a statement on the site. “We pledge to work with Sen. Mitchell to meet the terms of the agreement and emerge from this process as a model for compliance.”

The Freeh report concluded that senior university leaders concealed abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky to avoid bad publicity. The Freeh team made 119 recommendations, and the board of trustees is working on how to implement them.

This agreement means Penn State is obligated to implement all of the Freeh report’s recommendations for the athletics department.

For instance, the Freeh report recommended the department’s organizational structure be revised to clearly define who reports to whom. It also recommends national searches for positions, such as head coaches and associate athletic directors.

A new athletic department integrity officer will be appointed. This person will develop and implement policies and procedures to make sure athletics complies with NCAA and Big Ten rules. This person, to be appointed with 120 days, will have access to all relevant athletics and university records he or she needs.

The university will appoint within 120 days an athletics integrity council composed of the integrity officer, at least three faculty members, senior university administrators, among others.

The agreement also makes it so that all the university president, student-athletes, coaches, managers, staff — even board of trustees members — have to go through an annual training course on NCAA and Big Ten rules and policies.

The university also has to draft or update its written code of conduct for athletics.

The integrity agreement was signed by Erickson and NCAA president Mark Emmert on Tuesday.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT