Mitchell lauds Penn State’s progress

Penn State has made notable progress in its adoption of reforms
meant to protect children from sexual predators like former
assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the university’s
independent monitor said in an annual report.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, Penn State’s athletics integrity
monitor, issued his first year-end report on Friday.

The university has implemented most of the 119 recommendations
laid out in former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report last summer,
Mitchell said. The NCAA required Penn State to adopt the
recommendations as part of its consent decree with the
university.

”The amount of resources, time and energy devoted to these
efforts has been notable. We have been impressed by the
professionalism of those leading this undertaking,” the report
said.

The consent decree imposed a $60 million fine on the university,
temporarily reduced its scholarships and banned it from postseason
play for four years. It followed the release of Penn State’s
scathing internal review, led by Freeh, into how school officials
handled complaints about Sandusky’s behavior with boys in 1998 and
2001.

The family of late football coach Joe Paterno and others call
the Freeh report deeply flawed and are suing the NCAA over the
sanctions.

”While parties may continue to argue about the history that led
to the Freeh report and the (consent decree), a consensus has
developed that the principles of the heart of these reforms are
best practices for the governance of any large university,”
Mitchell’s report said.

Despite finding that Penn State is making progress, Mitchell did
not recommend that the NCAA relax the sanctions. Mitchell said Penn
State still needs to upgrade security measures at some facilities,
improve records retention, and correct campus ”culture”
problems.

”The favorable report is a significant milestone for us, but it
does not represent the conclusion of our efforts,” Penn State
President Rodney Erickson said in a statement.

Sandusky, 69, was convicted last year of molesting 10 boys. He
is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence and has maintained his
innocence. A state appeals court will hear arguments in his
challenge to the conviction on Sept. 17.