Penn State president Eric Barron announced Saturday that he will review the Freeh Report and the supporting materials produced during former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation of the university in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
A faction of Penn State alumni and fans have called for a review of the report, saying it unfairly and inaccurately depicted the university and its role in the Sandusky scandal. The former longtime assistant football coach is currently serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts of sex abuse in June 2012.
"The contents of the report have led to questions by some in the Penn State community. I do not want people to believe that Penn State is hiding something. I feel strongly about this. For this important reason, and since I was not here during its completion, I will conduct my own review. There is considerable documentation to analyze, but I assured the Board [of Trustees] I would move with all deliberate speed."
The university hired Freeh to conduct an investigation shortly after allegations arose in the fall of 2011 that Sandusky sexually abused multiple children.
In his report the following July, Freeh implicated several key figures for allowing Sandusky to perpetrate his crimes, including head football coach Joe Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley, president Graham Spanier and administrator Gary Schultz, and condemned the culture surrounding the university and football program at large.
The Freeh Report emboldened the NCAA to forgo its traditional enforcement procedures and present a consent decree of sanctions to Penn State, which included the vacating of all wins from 1998 to 2011, scholarship restrictions, a postseason ban and a $60 million fine, which was to go towards programs to help prevent child abuse.
Interim president Rodney Erickson, appointed after Spanier was forced out, accepted the consent decree. Believing that the Freeh Report exaggerated the problems within the university, some believed Penn State was being unfairly punished, leading to calls to re-examine the report.
The legality of the consent decree itself has also been questioned and is the subject of an upcoming January trial.
Emails released as part of the case show that the NCAA considered giving Penn State the death penalty and that high-ranking officials were unsure they even had the authority to present sanctions using the consent decree. The NCAA released more emails Friday that show that Penn State's counsel advocated for the acceptance of the decree.
Earlier this fall, the NCAA restored Penn State's postseason eligibility and lifted its scholarship restrictions because of how the program and university have responded since the punishment was handed down. The scholarship restrictions had been lessened last year for the same reason.
Barron succeeded Erickson when the latter retired in the spring.
- Ben Estes