Report: Freeh, NCAA Worked Closely on Penn State Probe
Newly disclosed documents show that the NCAA and former FBI Director Louis Freeh worked closely together during Freeh’s probe of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. The meaning of that information, however, is being hotly debated.
Freeh’s report was the basis of the consent decree that Penn State signed in the case, agreeing to a four-year bowl probation, loss of scholarships, a $60 million fine, and the vacating of the football team’s wins from 1998 to 2011.
Although the NCAA ultimately loosened some sanctions, the fallout has continued. The documents filed in state court Wednesday are part of a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania state Sen. Jake Corman and state treasurer Rob McCord that challenges the NCAA’s $60 million fine against Penn State. A lawsuit filed by the estate of former football coach Joe Paterno against the NCAA over the sanctions and alleged defamation of Paterno continues in state court.
“Clearly the more we dig into this, the more troubling it gets,” Corman told “Outside the Lines.” “There clearly is a significant amount of communication between Freeh and the NCAA that goes way beyond merely providing information. I’d call it coordination. … Clearly, Freeh went way past his mandate. He was the enforcement person for the NCAA. That’s what it looks like. I don’t know how you can look at it any other way. It’s almost like the NCAA hired him to do their enforcement investigation on Penn State.”
Officiallly, however, Penn State officials seemed unsurprised:
In a statement, Penn State said, “It has been public knowledge for almost three years that the University had agreed that the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference would monitor the progress of the Freeh investigation. While the NCAA may have made suggestions to the Freeh Group with respect to its investigation, the scope of the Freeh investigation was established by the Penn State Board of Trustees, as set forth in the Freeh engagement letter, not by the NCAA. The University’s preliminary review of the NCAA’s proposed questions suggests that there are many proposed questions that are not addressed in the final July 12, 2012 report.”
“The documents released do not suggest anything surprising and characterizations to the contrary are irresponsible. At the time the Freeh investigation was commissioned by Penn State, the NCAA made clear it would cooperate in any way and monitor the progress. As we have said, the NCAA received periodic status updates from Judge Freeh’s staff on the progress of the investigation. The Freeh Group investigation was completely and entirely independent from the NCAA and these updates intentionally and purposely did not include any information regarding the substance of the investigation. Nothing about the materials the plaintiffs released is inconsistent with these facts.”
The Inquirer reports that Corman isn’t buying it:
“The narrative that was presented to us was that Penn State hires Freeh to do a report, find out what happened, and give advice on best practices, and that the NCAA read that report and then levied the sanctions against Penn State,” Corman said. “That’s not what happened.”
Freeh’s law firm offered no comment on the matter, several outlets reported.