What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Two Years Later, The Flaws In The Freeh Report Finally Come To Light

joepa youngEven since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke at Penn State three years ago, my position on this story has been both clear and consistent. You can research the Dubsism archives to see it for yourself, but for purposes of this discussion, it can be summed up in a single compound sentence. From Day One, people lost sight of what should have been the focus of this story should have been how we as a society need to protect our children.

All you had to do was to read the Freeh Report to know that was not going to be the case. Honestly, you had to be living on the dark side of the moon to not know it before then; the Freeh Report just became the perfect example of how even a tale this tragic can become just another vehicle for the advancement of a political agenda.

In particular, I was especially critical of the Freeh Report for several reasons, but most notably that it attempted to place Joe Paterno in a similar position of guilt as the three university officials who are facing federal charges. The reason why that was done was simply to put the face of Penn State football closer to the actual crime in order to make Penn State a more politically-acceptable whipping boy for the NCAA.

And now CBS Sports is reporting that fact is now beginning to come to light.

Pennsylvania court documents reviewed Wednesday by ESPN show that NCAA officials were in consistent contact with the investigators responsible for Louis Freeh’s Penn State-commissioned independent report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

That July 2012 report would be the basis for the sweeping sanctions leveled against the program by the NCAA that same month, sanctions that included an unprecedented $60 million fine. The documents were made public as part of a lawsuit challenging that fine filed by Pennsylvania state senator Jake Corman and state treasurer Rob McCord.

“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,” Corman told ESPN. “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.”

“At a minimum, it is inappropriate. At a maximum, these were two parties working together to get an outcome that was predetermined.”

Before you wear out your crayons telling me that I’m defending a child molester or that I’m simply another Paterno apologist, I would point out that I am one of the few “Paterno apologists” who pointed out there were plenty of transgressions committed by the legendary football coach for which he needed to answer. The problem is that the Freeh Report went out of its way to blame Paterno for things that were actually the fault of then-Penn State President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, and Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley.

As I’ve mentioned, the details are in the previous piece, but it was very clear the Freeh Report glossed over Paterno’s objection to the retirement deal the university gave to Sandusky which granted him access to university facilities after the administration knew of previous incidents involving children and cited the Clery Act to frame Paterno as a co-conspirator with the three university officials.

Let’s be honest; without Paterno, this story had no legs. If you did the Jay Leno-style “man on the street” built today about this story, most people will tell you Joe Paterno was the criminal involved. The average person doesn’t remember who Jerry Sandusky was, nor did they know who he was before the story broke. The same goes for three suits from the campus administration building, so for the NCAA to have a story which a) has a life cycle in the short-attention span news media and b) gave the NCAA something on which it could appear decisive and strong-willed.

Despite what people might think, this never happened.

Despite what people might think, this never happened.

Doubt that? Then ask yourself a few questions. Would this story have had the legs it did had Sandusky been an professor in the English department? Would this story have had the legs it did had it happened at a school which wasn’t a leviathan in the multi-billion dollar business know as college athletics? Was the NCAA really worried the “pro-pedophile” lobby was going to attack them for taking a strong stance? I think we all know the answer to all three questions is “Hell no.”

That’s exactly why the NCAA needed this story to include Joe Paterno at whatever cost.  The last part of the CBS Sports story bears that out.

Among the communication between the two parties included was a request from NCAA president Mark Emmert to speak directly with Freeh only days after the former FBI director had been hired by Penn State; a meeting between Freeh and other high-ranking members of his team with NCAA general counsel Donald Remy and then-NCAA enforcement official Julie Roe Lach; in Dec. 2011; and a two-hour video conference call hosted in January 2012 by NCAA attorneys and enforcement officials for the benefit of Freeh’s investigative team, a call referred to by one member of Freeh’s team as an “education session.”

Remy issued a statement to CBSSports.com Wednesday:

“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.”

Penn State issued a statement to ESPN:

“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.”

Internal emails from 2012 recently made public showed some members of the NCAA were ambivalent about issuing sanctions against Penn State, questioning if it had the “jurisdiction” to impose penalties.

Let’s take that piece-by-piece, starting with the NCAA’s denial.The heart of that statement is in the following:

“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”

Here’s one of those times where to really understand what a complete load of crap that is, you have to do the required reading. If you haven’t done so already, go read the Freeh Report. Don’t just skim it, don’t just cruise through the summary; dig into the guts of it. Once you do that, two things will become blatantly obvious.

The first is that the entire raison d’être for this document was to link Joe Paterno to the three aforementioned university officials.  This becomes pretty clear when the Freeh Report lists page after page of detailed evidence and completely fails to do so with Paterno.

for example, the Freeh Report makes it very clear that former Penn State president Graham Spanier was an excellent candidate for a grand jury indictment of his own. Here’s ten reasons why:

  • Potential perjury count #1: Testifying to the 2001 grand jury he was unaware of the 1998 investigation against Sandusky, even though emails from 1998 show him discussing the investigation with athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz.
  • Potential perjury count #2: Repeating this claim to the Special Investigative Counsel, and stating he “never heard a report from anyone” that Sandusky was abusing children.
  • Ethics Violation #1 and #2: Failing to notify the Board of Trustees that an investigation of a prominent assistant football coach was underway, withholding this information from them even while the board was considering (and approving) a favorable land deal between the university and Sandusky’s Second Mile charity.
  • Ethics Violation #3: Approving and pushing for Sandusky’s emeritus rank—and the facility access privileges that came along with it— despite Sandusky not qualifying for it by the established academic rules.
  • Ethics Violation #4: Declaring Curley’s plan to suggest Sandusky stop hanging around children, without actual sanctions, to be “a humane approach.”
  • Potential perjury count #3: Telling the Special Investigative Counsel his first knowledge of the 1998 incident came at the April 2011 grand jury appearance, when notes from his Attorney General interview a month prior reveal he was questioned about it then.
  • Ethics Violation #5 and Potential Misappropriation count #1: Approving an unprecedented $168,000 lump-sum retirement payment to Sandusky in 1999.
  • Ethics Violation #6: Showing no interest in identifying the child involved in the 2001 incident or ascertaining whether or not a crime had occurred.
  • Ethics Violation #7 and Potential Contributing count #1: Opposing any and all independent investigations into Sandusky’s behavior.
  • Potential falsification of records count #1: Modifying the November 2011 Board of Trustees statement without their knowledge or approval, asserting that Curley and Schultz requested administrative leave rather than that the board had decided to place them on leave.

The NCAA is hoping you never read the Freeh Report because once you do, all you have to do is to look at the dates on some of those assertions and remember that 2012 was not the first time any of this stuff landed in a court room to realize the NCAA’s story holds as much water as a pasta strainer.

Where the Freeh Report makes a case against Spanier, Schultz, and Curley, all it ever really does with Paterno is to play a big game of guilt by association by ensuring the former coach’s name is never more than three words away from the three university officials under federal indictment.

It is far later in the report before Freeh ever mentions that which Paterno was guilty,  That’s because it isn’t nearly as headline worthy as accusing somebody of being actively involved in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children.

The major transgression Joe Paterno committed was that he clearly knew more than he told the grand jury; which placed teh legendary coach dangerously close to a perjury charge.  Paterno’s testimony before the grand jury which was investigating Jerry Sandusky is really just shy of Bill Clinton-esque word-parsing. While he never stoops to “That depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,”  Paterno denial that he knew anything about the 1998 incident (in which Sandusky was investigated but never charged after police received a report from a woman who claimed Sandusky had showered with her son and touched the boy) is barely plausible, and may be completely false.

Face it, nobody cares about perjury. Politicians do it all the time, and even a President of the United States doing it makes news for about ten minutes.

Once again, don’t take this as an attempt to whitewash Joe Paterno’s tainted legacy. This is about a flawed report which used the coach to make itself relevant. But it also failed to lay blame at the doorsteps of several people who also need to take a piece of the blame for the Sandusky situation. That’s the second biggest flaw in the Freeh Report; it never comes close to laying blame in all the places in need to be laid.

This starts with Jerry Sandusky. He committed the crimes. There’s no denying this is all about one sick individual with a sexual attraction to young boys who used his position to be a sexual predator. Subsequent to that, there was a catastrophic dereliction of duty at nearly every step along the way.

There’s almost no plausible way Dottie Sandusky can legitimately say she knew nothing of the abuse and couldn’t have stopped it. Young boys were being raped in her very own house.

Then comes former president Graham Spanier, who not only pushed through the ‘retirement deal” and fostered the relationship with The Second Mile, which essentially created both the infrastructure for the systemized sexual abuse of children on the part of Sandusky and allowed the Second Mile essentially act to act as a victim-recruitment service.

Then comes the Penn State Board of Trustees, who had the ultimate responsiblity to act and failed. Subsequent to that is the board of The Second Mile, most of whose members had university connections.

The NCAA completely failed in it’s role of oversight, then acted hastily and clumsily in the aftermath.  All the NCAA did in its sanctions was make itself look like it is actually in control of the world of college sports, when in fact the exact opposite is true.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could have stopped this all in 1998, if they had ever questioned why their state psychologist essentially let Sandusky of the hook in 1998, then ended up on the Penn State payroll in 2000.

University administrators Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Rodney Erickson all played the role of “knowing accomplice” in varying to degrees to the nefarious activity of Spanier.

University Police Chief Thomas Harmon never called for outside help once it became clear their was an organized cover-up occurring which included his boss.

Lastly, there was head coach Joe Paterno, who was less than straight-forward with the grand jury, but this was also after the aforementioned cover-up perpetrated by Spanier, Curley, and Schultz had been exposed.  Paterno’s major culpability was trusting in his superiors who in retrospect were clearly untrustworthy.  Paterno was hand-cuffed by the stipulations of the “retirement deal” which did not permit him to ban Sandusky from the football facilities, he was over-ruled on his objection to allowing Second Mile children on the Penn State campus, he had a systemic cover-up happening in his up-chain, and the Chief of the University Police was not taking any action.

Despite all that, the Freeh Report and those who commissioned it are more than happy to let you believe this was all the fault of Joe Paterno. People will believe what they want; there’s no changing that.

But the Freeh Report did absolutely nothing to further the cause of preventing the abuse of children, which is it’s biggest flaw. There’s no debating that.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

2 comments on “Two Years Later, The Flaws In The Freeh Report Finally Come To Light

  1. J-Dub
    November 13, 2014

    Reblogged this on TurtleBoySports.


  2. Pingback: Two Years Later, The Flaws In The Freeh Report Finally Come To Light | Turtleboysports.com

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This entry was posted on November 13, 2014 by in College Football and tagged , , .

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