Posts filed under ‘Sandusky scandal’
Holly Gregory wanted to clear up one thing right off the bat. The lawyer hired to facilitate the Board of Trustees’ discussion about the more difficult parts of governance reform—the size of the board, the constituencies represented on the board, the qualifications needed to serve on the board, etc.—opened the trustees’ retreat Thursday afternoon with, as she put it, a disclosure:
She’s not a Penn State graduate.
That was a soft opening, to be sure. But as Gregory continued, she laid out her philosophy of good governance and how she sees her consulting role. She explained the focus of her law practice—working with boards of directors and trustees, at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and said that includes other universities.
She acknowledged the progress Penn State has already made in governance reform, but she added, “There are a number of areas where observers have continued to call for change. We have to listen.”
When governance committee chair Keith Eckel announced the hiring of Gregory in November, he stressed that he was looking for not for an expert in the field, but a facilitator, someone who could guide the board—which is divided—in what he has called the ongoing and continuous work of determining how best to govern the university.
He reiterated that Thursday, when he introduced Gregory and opened the retreat:
“The right model for Penn State will be the Penn State model,” he said. “It is within every one of our hands, the ability to shape that. Holly is the expert, and I have great confidence in her ability. But perhaps her most important talent is one of facilitation.
“There may be differences among us, but I am convinced there is one thing that unites all of us, and that is that we want the best for Penn State. Our viewpoints may differ in what that definition is, but we want the best for Penn State. And this effort is to create and in many cases reaffirm processes we may already have as the best Penn State model.”
And Gregory immediately picked up one of Eckel’s main themes: “Governance is a work in progress,” she said. “It never really ends. You never really say you’re done. You continually need to think about how this board functions and operates and the rules it has in place to guide it.”
The first part of the retreat was open to the public; by my count, 12 people—including me, four other reporters, and two Penn State public information staffers—attended the session, which lasted for about 40 minutes. The trustees were in one room; we watched a video hookup from the room next door that showed whoever was addressing the trustees. The rest of the retreat took place in a closed executive session.
Among the points that Gregory made in the public portion of the retreat:
—Fiduciary duty: As a lawyer, she sees fiduciary duty as the underpinning of everything a trustee does. “Not as an ending,” she said, “but as a starting point.”
—Disagreements are OK: Tensions in “key relationships” at an institution that has undergone a crisis are not unusual. “In fact,” she said, “they are the norm.” Gregory called herself “agnostic” on the Sandusky scandal and aftermath and stressed that “disagreement isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s something to be valued.”
—Speaking with “one voice:” That said, she also stressed how important it is that the board speaks publicly with one voice. They key, she said, is to figure out a way to get the “benefits of vigorous debate”—meaning, in private—“without causing harm to the university.”
—Three duties of trustees: She laid out three duties that should guide trustees: obedience, meaning that everything the trustees do should be tied directly to the university’s mission as described in the charter and bylaws; care, meaning to put in the time needed to fully understand issues and to do due diligence; and loyalty, meaning avoiding conflicts of interests—or identifying ones that can’t be avoided and protecting the university’s reputation. “After all,” Gregory said, “that’s one of a university’s primary assets.”
She continued: “The good news is that perfection is not required. These duties, they expect a very, very high standard from trustees. But the law recognizes that the board, acting in real time and in response to real emerging issues, will not always make the best decision. You’re going to get it wrong. You’re going to make mistakes sometimes. As long as you’re acting with reasonable and prudent care, you as trustees will not be held liable.”
—A culture to strive for: Gregory characterized the culture the board should strive to meet with these phrases: Mindful of fiduciary duties. Future-focused: anticipatory, not reactive. Revitalizing, not entrenched. Diverse and inclusive.
She ended with this: “I can’t emphasize enough the value that comes from having the opportunity to debate a variety of viewpoints.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Two of the running jokes around the office involve me: (1) Every time I go on vacation, big Penn State news breaks and (2) Every time it’s my turn to do The Daily, there are scandal and/or legal-related updates. I was wine tasting in Sonoma when when Bill O’Brien left to coach the Houston Texans, and today, my first day back on Daily Duty, there’s so much scandal-related news that there’s barely any coverage of what’s probably the most interesting part of it—the judge’s decision in the NCAA lawsuit, released late afternoon Tuesday. I hate to be a cliche, but I guess there is a pattern.
Paterno lawsuit going forward: More than two months after retired Potter County judge John Leete heard arguments as to whether the lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the Paterno family along with some faculty, trustees, former lettermen, and former coaches should go forward, he released his decision—a nuanced, detailed 25-page document that I had to read twice before I began to fully understand it. The upshot is this: the legality of the consent decree (breach of contract) will not be litigated unless Penn State itself joins the lawsuit because Leete ruled that the university is an “indispensable” party, but other parts of the lawsuit, including several defamation claims and a civil conspiracy claim, will go forward. Wrote Leete: “Penn State’s absence does not require dismissal of the entire Complaint. Plaintiffs’ tort claims stand on a different footing than the contract claims because they do not require rulings affecting Penn State’s rights in any significant way.”
I don’t know anyone who thinks that Penn State is suddenly going to change its mind and sue the NCAA, so don’t expect any movement on the consent decree. But this decision does mean that the discovery phase will begin, and that means that subpoenas could be forthcoming. In a statement, Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers called the decision a “significant victory” and added, “With this ruling the bright light of legal discovery will finally shine on the facts and records of all parties involved.”
Coverage of this has been scant so far, but my friend Mike Dawson ’02 of the Centre Daily Times did a nice job, getting NCAA reaction, as well, and Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann has some quickie analysis on his Twitter feed (you have to scan down and expand to see the conversations). Among McCann’s observations: “My instinct is NCAA now pursues settlement w/Paterno family, but I could see family saying no deal unless NCAA publicly says sorry.”
Sandusky pension hearing: Jerry Sandusky ’67, ’71g testified via video link for about three hours Tuesday in an attempt to get his Penn State pension restored. He lost it because of a state law that allows for the forfeiture of pensions for people convicted of certain crimes, but he is maintaining that he was not a Penn State employee when the crimes occurred. Mike Dawson ’02, who had a really busy day, has the strongest story, which details how much of the testimony weirdly recounted Sandusky’s performance as a defensive coordinator.
Spanier v. Freeh: As if that weren’t enough legal news, there was another hearing Tuesday morning about whether Graham Spanier needs to file more than an intent to sue Louis Freeh for defamation. Spanier’s attorney contends that’s enough given that the criminal case is proceeding. Freeh’s attorneys said more details about the potential lawsuit are required.
No coach yet: And, yeah, the search for Penn State’s next football coach continues. The Patriot-News has a ton of coverage, ranging from an interview with Bill O’Brien’s right-hand guy, Jim Bernhardt, by Audrey Snyder ’12 to David Jones’ column on why Penn State needs stability in its next coach. For the latest rumors and hand-wringing, of course, go to Twitter.
RIP Mary Jo Haverbeck: Like all of my friends and colleagues who cover Penn State sports and/or women’s sports, I’m mourning the death of Mary Jo Haverbeck ’76g, retired associate sports information director and the first woman inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America’s Hall of Fame. Mary Jo worked behind the scenes, but she’s one of the main reasons that Penn State’s women’s sports teams became so prominent, as Centre Daily Times sports editor Walt Moody points out in a lovely tribute to Mary Jo. I’m one of the many, many people Mary Jo went out of her way to mentor, and I can’t say enough how much she taught me and what a nice person she was. I’ll try, though, in another blog post within a day or two.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Legal update: Here’s the short story: Tuesday’s pretrial hearing produced no clarity on whether Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, Penn State’s former general counsel, will be able to testify in the trial of Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g, and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g. The judge said that rather than hear testimony from Baldwin, he will make his ruling based on the documents. You can see links to some of those documents here in a Patriot-News story. The basic issue is whether Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege when she testified to the grand jury and, therefore, whether her testimony is admissible in court. But the question is complicated. This Centre Daily Times story, based on additional documents, explains that Penn State waived attorney-client privilege, allowing Baldwin to testify. If you’ve got the time and have been following this case closely, the documents are really worth your time to check out.
Behind the scenes of Lunar Lion: If you read our November/December cover story or any of the other coverage, you know a little about Lunar Lion, its goal to land a spacecraft on the moon by 2015, and the giant university effort involved in the project. Those stories went big. Here’s one that goes small and shows what Lunar Lion is doing on a micro scale. Bobby Chen of Onward State tells the story of Philip Chow, a sophomore who is leading the procurement of parts for the effort. Yeah, a sophomore. Buying parts for a mission to the moon. In between classes. That’s likely unprecedented, and it’s a great story. Full disclosure: Bobby originally wrote this for my news writing class.
O’Brien watch: If you’re still obsessing over Bill O’Brien’s potential NFL opportunities, Dave Jones of the Patriot-News breaks down his options here.
Relax, says Mike the Mailman: According to Mike the Mailman—and, really, who do you trust more?—you’ve got until Saturday, Dec. 21, to get packages mailed in time to get there by Christmas. At least, that’s the case at Mike’s post office. Christian Heilman has the video story for Penn State’s Centre County Report. If you want faster service, Christian says, there’s a solution—bring cookies. Again, at least at Mike’s post office.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Your Monday sports wrap: The Nittany Lions’ “Return to Rec” game was a huge success in all but the final score, an 81-79 overtime loss Saturday to Princeton. The Tigers clawed back from a 20-point second-half deficit to dampen Penn State’s first game at Rec Hall since 1996. Still, it was a great afternoon for the fans who packed into the old barn—if you weren’t there, you can find a terrific bunch of photos from Mark Selders here. The women’s volleyball team enjoyed a more successful weekend on the road, beating Michigan State and long-time rival Stanford to guarantee a return to the NCAA Final Four. Penn State will face Washington on Thursday in Seattle for a chance to play in the national title game.
I thought the contrast in photos Onward State ran in back-to-back stories on the hoops and volleyball games was worth noting:
Making their case: At a pretrial hearing Tuesday in Harrisburg, attorneys for Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g, and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g will argue that the cases against them should be thrown out. At issue is the role of Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, the former university counsel, and the question of whether Baldwin was representing them or the university in front of a grand jury in 2010. You can read more here.
“Ready” or not? We knew the rumors were coming, and with Penn State’s football season over, we didn’t have to wait long. CBS Sports writer Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that, “according to pro and college sources,” Bill O’Brien is “ready” to return to the NFL. Is it true? Probably only O’Brien, his family, and his agent know for sure, but you can expect to hear much more on this over the coming weeks as NFL teams wrap up the regular season and prepare for the annual turnover in head coaching jobs. Stay tuned.
It’s finals week: The cold front that has smacked Happy Valley in recent days should make it easier for students to cuddle up with warm books and laptops for the next few days as they wrap up the fall semester with final exams. Student media has all sorts of finals-related coverage—much of it lighthearted, much of it NSFW, exactly—but this list of songs to get students through study sessions from the Daily Collegian’s “Finals Mag” is somewhat illuminating. Who knew they were listening to Dylan?
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Coaching changes: Penn State’s longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher will not return for the 2014 season. Details of the coaches’ departures are still unclear, and Coach Bill O’Brien has not commented. Vanderlinden was one of only two members of Joe Paterno’s coaching staff to work under O’Brien. No word yet on possible replacements.
Here to help: Developmental psychologist Jennie Noll has been helping victims of child sexual abuse since she was a child herself, as Noll explains in a piece from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Noll, who started at Penn State in September as director of research and education for the study and prevention of child abuse, is one of five experts hired by the university to study and educate others about child abuse. According to the article, Noll is helping Penn State hire more experts in various disciplines to further examine the issue. Says Karen L. Bierman, director of the Child Study Center: “Penn State has grieved, but we’ve pulled together to try to make something positive and large out of this tragedy.”
That smarts: It’s not news to most Penn Staters that John Urschel ’12, ’13g is a smart guy. But thanks to this CBS News piece, more people know about the Penn State offensive guard—who also happens to have a masters in mathematics and is working on a second. In an interview with CBS, Coach Bill O’Brien talks about Urschel’s constant need for numbers: “If you give him a percentage of how many times this team blitzes, he wants to know the whole survey size and what games we looked at and how many numbers related. John, just take it from us: They blitz a lot.'”
We’re No. 3: State College is the third-best college town in the U.S., according to the American Institute for Economic Research, which based the rankings on how easy it is for students to get around, recreational opportunities, and cost of living, among other factors. Ithaca, N.Y. came in first, and Ames, Iowa took second.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Underdogs? 24-point underdogs? I’ll admit it: I was one of the doubters. I was the lector at Saturday night Mass, and I never dreamed that when I came out of church, the Nittany Lions would be on the verge of defeating No. 15 Wisconsin. I missed the entire second half, so I had a lot of catching up to do when I got home. Here’s what I did: watched this video from the locker room, this video of Bill O’Brien’s news conference, read this piece by Dave Jones of The Patriot-News about freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns and is racking up all kinds of recognition, and checked out John McGonigal’s game story in the Collegian.
Looking to the future: Can’t wait for next football season? Get ready now by checking out this analysis by Mark Wogenrich ’90 of The Morning Call and this New York Times story about the future of the Big Ten, which adds Maryland and Rutgers—and a new division configuration—next season.
In other sports: The men’s soccer team lost 2-0 to New Mexico in the Sweet 16, but it finished the season with a 13-6-2 record and with a long road trip—nearly 5,000 miles in the air, 600 on the road in the NCAA tournament. … The women’s volleyball team finished its regular season with a four-set victory over long-time nemesis Nebraska in a match-up of two Top 10 programs in Lincoln, and it will, as usual, open the NCAA tournament at home, 7:30 p.m. Friday against LIU Brooklyn. … The men’s basketball team advanced to the final of the Barclays Center Classic but fell to Ole Miss, 79-76, despite 23 points from D.J. Newbill. … Tournament MVP Maggie Lucas led the women’s basketball team to the championship of the Junkajoo Jam in the Bahamas, where the players also scored some quality time with some friendly dolphins.
Legal update: A couple of months ago, former president Graham Spanier requested “a bill of particulars,” regarding the charges he is facing in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The prosecution answered last week, and although most of Spanier’s requests were denied, the lawyers did provide a list of what they called Spanier’s false statements in his April 2011 testimony before a grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky ’67, ’71g. Charlie Thompson of The Patriot-News does a nice job here summarizing the legalese. Next up in the case against Spanier, Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g, and Tim Curley ’76, ’78g: a hearing on several pre-trial matters, including the defense’s motion to quash the testimony of former university council Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, is scheduled for the week of Dec. 16.
“Mom away from home:” That’s what the two-time national champion Lionettes dance team members call Sue Cacciotti Sherburne ’95g, ’09g, their director, who’s also assistant director of the Morgan Academic Support System for athletes. Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times writes that Sherburne “gives the Lionettes tools for moving through life as well as they do through space.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Sandusky spending: According to progress.psu.edu, costs from Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse case have risen to $51.8 million. That’s $2.4 million more than was last reported in June 2013. A graphic in today’s Daily Collegian provides a breakdown of the total cost, which includes legal fees, the NCAA fine, and consulting services.
“Betsy”: You’ve likely heard the story of Betsy Aardsma, the graduate student whose murder in Pattee Library has gone unsolved since 1969. But senior film student Tommy Davis wants people to know more. “Establishing [Betsy] as a true person was important to me,” Davis told Onward State‘s Jessica Tully. Davis has been researching Aardsma’s story since his freshman year, collecting information from experts on the case and interviewing people who knew Betsy personally. Davis’ full-length film, “Betsy,” opens at the State Theatre on Jan. 19.
Still basking: Yesterday, we told you about Matt McGloin’s stellar NFL debut as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Last night, McGloin ’12 talked to StateCollege.com‘s Mike Poorman ’82 about post-game soreness, taking on Tennessee this weekend, and the flood of congratulatory texts (including one from Coach Bill O’Brien) he received after Sunday’s game: “My cell was blowing up after the game. And it still is even today.”
‘Tis the season: The State College Christmas tree is up downtown, which, depending on who you ask, marks the beginning of the holiday season. The tree lighting is still 10 days away (it’s scheduled for Nov. 29), but the big guy looks pretty good au naturel, don’t you think?
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Tale of two Penn States: As the search for a new president continues, Inside Higher Ed published this piece, examining how Penn State might appear to a potential leader: “… candidates may be asking themselves which Penn State they see: one led in part by ‘the search committee that couldn’t shoot straight,’ or a solid academic and financial entity with a long history and a bright future.” Donald Heller, the former head of Penn State’s Center for the Study of Higher Education, and an anonymous Penn State faculty member are quoted in the story.
Spanier v. Freeh: Attorneys for Louis Freeh and former Penn State president Graham Spanier are headed to court early next year. Back in July 2013, Spanier filed a defamation lawsuit in response to the Freeh report, which alleged Spanier helped cover up Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of children. The argument goes to trial in the Centre County Courthouse on Jan. 9, 2014.
Master Key: Keegan-Michael Key, of Comedy Central’s hit show Key & Peele, is pretty much my best friend. And by “best friend,” I mean I interviewed him once. We chatted on the phone earlier this week (for an upcoming story in the magazine — stay tuned) and Key ’96g was not only hysterically funny, but also incredibly nice and easygoing—which helped calm my out-of-control, omg-I’m-talking-to-a-comedy-genius nerves. BFF status aside, this is good news: A Key & Peele movie, produced by comedy heavyweight Judd Apatow, is in the works. Now I’m just waiting on my invite to the premiere.
Think positive: So, last night’s men’s basketball game vs. Bucknell didn’t go so well. But let’s look on the bright side. More specifically, let’s look at this adorable photo of a miniature lion high-fiving the real deal, captured during the game by Onward State‘s Bobby Chen (@rysChen) and posted on Twitter this morning.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
In the eye of the beholder: “Ugly” was the word flying around after Saturday’s 24-17 OT win over Illinois. Most fans and media agree that’s exactly what it was, while Bill O’Brien and his players, pretty much to a man, insisted that any win is a thing of beauty. Regardless of your perspective, there were some cool post-game insights from this one. Among them:
* The overtime touchdown pass from Christian Hackenberg to Kyle Carter is Bill O’Brien’s “favorite” play call—and that was before it won the game.
* Junior running back Bill Belton apologized for the goal-line fumble that almost cost the Lions the game, and thanked his teammates for bailing him out. Suffice it to say, without Belton’s 201 rushing yards—the first 200-yard game by a Penn State running back since Larry Johnson ’02 in 2002—the Lions wouldn’t have been in the game.
* And after yet another huge game from junior wideout Allen Robinson, NFL.com singled him out for praise—no doubt, a positive sign for A-Rob’s future employment.
Is that video of Bill O’Brien coaching practice on Halloween dressed as the Nittany Lion? Yes. Yes it is.
Mike McQueary, in context: Monday marks two years since Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g was indicted, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review marks the anniversary with a profile of Mike McQueary ’97, whose testimony will be central to the eventual trial of former university administrators. Trib staff writer Adam Smeltz ’05 mixes anecdotal perspectives on McQueary’s personality with expert opinions on how his testimony will impact the trial. A piece that might be worth bookmarking for whenever the trial gets underway.
A love story, and a lesson: Donald Ford, founding dean of the College of Health and Human Development, hopes the story of his relationship with his late wife—and how he helped manage her later years as she suffered from Alzheimer’s—is an inspiration for others. With Carol’s Alzheimer’s Journey, Ford ’56g combined tales from their six-decade relationship (including letters they wrote each other over the years) with his perspective on how, with creativity, help, and an impressive level of commitment, he was able to care for Carol at home even as her disease progressed. You can find out more about the book, including links to purchase it, here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Settlements reached: It was announced yesterday that Penn State will pay $59.7 million to settle lawsuits filed by 26 victims of Jerry Sandusky. The settlements will not be funded by student tuition or taxpayer funds, according to officials. (See this news release for more details on how the settlements will be paid.) Said President Rodney Erickson: “We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State.”
An interesting comparison: On the heels of the announcement, Bloomberg Businessweek posted this piece, comparing Penn State’s settlements to the deals struck by the Catholic Church with four men abused by a former priest. The takeaway: Victims in both settlements received about $2.3 million each.
Get a room: On a lighter note, new research from SAS and Breffni Noone, a faculty member in the School of Hospitality Management, shows how bad online reviews can affect a hotel’s bottom line. According to the study, “consumers simply will not choose a hotel with negative reviews.” Which means I’m not the only one who won’t book a room until I’ve skimmed at least 50 reviews for the word “bedbug.”
Muppets! The next Muppets movie isn’t due in theaters until March 2014, but this fun new poster, featuring Ty Burrell ’97g, was released yesterday. According to imdb.com, Burrell plays Jean Pierre Napoleon, who—judging by this pic and that creepy mustache—appears to be a bad guy.
Mary Murphy, associate editor