PSU alumni group questions hiring of Freeh group
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A group of Penn State alumni is calling on university officials to release detailed information related to the hiring of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to conduct an investigation into the university's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, including proposals sought from other firms and the letter of intent under which the investigation was initiated.
The request from Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is coming in the wake of severe NCAA sanctions taken against the university that were based on the conclusions of the Freeh report released earlier this month. It was sent this morning from Michelle Murosky, founder of the alumni group, to Karen Peetz, chairman of the Penn State board of trustees.
Maribeth Roman Schmidt, spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, said its members want to see the letter of intent with the Freeh firm to see if it was the university's intent for the results of the investigation to be used by the NCAA or any other outside organization to take action against the university. She said group members have questioned the legality of the NCAA acting on the conclusions of the Freeh report rather than conducting its own investigation and that there are 40-some attorneys in Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship who are researching the matter.
"It certainly does appear that Penn State groveled at the feet of the NCAA and said take this and punish us and do what you have to do just don't come investigating," Ms. Schmidt said.
The NCAA sanctions announced July 23 included a $60 million fine, four-year post-season ban and reduction of scholarships. The NCAA also stripped the football program of all of its victories from 1998-2011, which meant that Coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, lost his his claim to the all-time NCAA winning record.
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has called since November for the removal of all trustees who were on the board that month when Paterno was abruptly fired and university president Graham Spanier resigned in the wake of the filing of criminal charges against Mr. Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who was convicted in June on 45 counts related to child sexual assault.
The group has been critical of the conclusions of the Freeh Report, which largely pointed the finger at Paterno, Mr. Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz for covering up reports of sexual abuse of young boys by Mr. Sandusky in 1998 and again in 2001.
Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz have been charged with perjury for their grand jury testimony and failing to properly report suspected child abuse. Mr. Spanier has not been charged.
Ms. Schmidt said her group questions whether the Freeh firm was hand-picked by trustees "to justify the board's decisions in November and to keep the spotlight on the football program and we don't know that's where it belonged."
In addition to other proposals and the letter of intent, the alumni group is asking for the "means and methodology" used in the investigation and information on those who conducted the investigation, including any subcontractors hired.
Penn State spokesman David LaTorre did not have immediate comment on the request from Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. Thomas Davis, of Kekst and Company, a communications firm that represents the Freeh firm, declined comment.
First Published July 31, 2012 12:01 am