Posts tagged ‘Ken Frazier’

Trustees Vote Against Examining the Freeh Report

In a contentious 90-minute special meeting Tuesday, the Board of Trustees voted down a proposal to formally examine the findings of the Freeh Report, voting instead to maintain its current stance of waiting until legal proceedings related to the Sandusky scandal run their course.

Alumni trustee Al Lord ’67 presented the initial resolution, which proposed the creation of an ad hoc committee to “examine the Freeh Report, meet with Freeh and his investigative team, review the full set of undisclosed communications and report its findings to the full board.” That resolution was defeated by a 17-9 vote, with Lord and the other eight alumni-elected trustees the only “yes” votes. A second resolution, presented by gubernatorial appointee and board vice chair Kathleen Casey ’88, proposed that the board “continue to actively monitor the discovery and factual investigations … and, upon conclusion of such proceedings, shall determine whether any action is appropriate and in the best interest of Penn State.” That resolution passed 17-8, with alumni trustee Adam Taliaferro ’05 abstaining.

It was Lord, during discussion of the second resolution, who asked Casey to clarify whether the action in her proposal (written in collaboration with Ken Frazier ’73) was simply to “continue.” When Casey said yes, Lord replied, “Continue to do what we’re doing? Resolutions should do something. This is ‘continue to do nothing.'” It was an exchange that got to the heart of the divide among the board’s members: The alumni trustees remain committed to repudiating the most damning findings of the Freeh Report, while the majority of board members argue that any such action is at best premature.

Lord introduced the amended resolution, first proposed in July, by acknowledging other issues that demand the board’s attention. “I wish that instead of talking about being pleased with only increasing tuition two or three percent, we were talking about decreasing tuition,” he said. “But what needs immediate attention is the Freeh Report… My feeling is that the consequences of the Freeh Report and the NCAA consent decree live on.” He cited comments and signs encountered by Penn State fans at the Rutgers football game last month as proof that the damage to the university’s reputation remains unchecked. “When I saw those signs, it occurred to me how far we’ve fallen, or how other people think we’ve fallen, because we don’t stand up for ourselves. I’m bothered by how meekly we react. Generally speaking, we don’t react at all … there’s a sense of ‘Suck it up, we deserve it.’ We don’t deserve it.”

The four-person ad hoc committee proposed in Lord’s resolution would have included Lord, fellow alumni trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, and two members appointed by board chair Keith Masser ’73. The alumni trustees were unanimous in their support: Ted Brown ’68 argued that any trustee who said they’d be willing to defend the university’s reputation in a one-on-one conversation was obligated to support the proposal, while Bob Jubelirer ’59, ’62g disputed the need to wait on the legal outcomes: “There is no downside, none at all, if we review the Freeh Report.”

Counterarguments came from Keith Eckel, an elected agricultural trustee, who cited strong applicant numbers and an upgraded credit rating as signs of the university’s health, and argued that the board’s responsibility was to “our students and our constituents. I urge the defeat of this resolution and the moving forward of the university, and the continued observation of the results of the trials that are ongoing, and because of which we cannot make any decision today.” That response brought an isolated “boo” from someone in the audience of roughly 100 people, many of whom applauded points made by the various alumni trustees. An otherwise tame exchange between the business and industry-elected trustee Rick Dandrea ’77 (an attorney who argued the wait-and-see approach on the ongoing court cases) and alumni trustee Ryan McCombie ’70 led to a more strident response from the crowd; two audience members were escorted out of the meeting after loud outbursts, prompting Masser to slam his gavel at the podium, while Lord turned toward the crowd and made a “time out” signal to try to quiet things down.

When order was restored, McCombie finished his point: “We accepted a scarlet letter that said we are a ‘football culture,’ when everyone knows we aren’t a football culture. I refuse to accept that letter; I don’t think the university should, either.”

After a bit more back and forth between the two sides—and the removal of one more audience member after an extended outburst—the trustees voted, with the the “nays” carrying the day. That was followed by the introduction of Casey’s resolution, a brief back-and-forth about when the board members had initially received it (the proposal was sent out electronically last Friday), and objections from Lord, Lubrano, and Bill Oldsey ’76 about the proposal’s wording. Taking issue with the final paragraph of Casey’s proposal, Oldsey noted, “It says ‘consistent with fiduciary duty’ … and then it says we’re going to wait and see. Unless I missed the last two hours, there is a lot of disagreement on the board about our fiduciary duty.”

That disagreement doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. A quick vote to table the proposal until a later date was shot down along the expected lines—the nine alumni trustees once again voted together—before the actual vote on the Casey/Frazier “wait and see” resolution. It passed.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm 4 comments

An Emotional Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting.

Ken Frazier, shown in this file photo, was one of the main speakers at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

For more than two and a half hours, everyone fidgeted in their seats, and the tension built. The Board of Trustees meeting plodded along. Through a long informational report on the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Through a time-lapse video of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital construction. Through a PowerPoint presentation about residence halls, one that touched on room and board fees.

The time scheduled for public comment, 3:45 p.m, came and went. Media checked their watches. Alumni speculated on Twitter about the board’s motive for dragging out the proceedings for so long.

And then, finally, what everyone was expecting—waiting for, really—happened.

Trustee Ken Frazier ’75, chair of the board task force that commissioned the Freeh report, defended Louis Freeh’s investigation in a full, public board meeting—and trustee Anthony Lubrano ’82, elected to the board 10 months ago because of alumni anger over the Sandusky scandal and how Joe Paterno was treated by the trustees, questioned the report’s validity.

Minutes later, during the public comment portion, five football lettermen, each wearing a sticker proclaiming himself “Member of the GRAND EXPERIMENT,” suggested that the trustees were driven by a hidden agenda, that they had failed in their leadership role, that they had opened the door to NCAA sanctions, that they had fractured the university community.

“The good news here,” said Mark Battaglia ’82, a center on the 1982 national championship team, “is that we’re losing. We didn’t lose. We’re losing badly. We need to change the strategy. You guys can do that. There’s still time.”

It was a moment that had been building, really, since the scandal broke 16 months ago, even before the Freeh report was released in July. Alumni anger intensified with the Freeh report, and then the release of the Paterno report last month seemed to mark another milestone. After more than a year of near-silence about the situation on Twitter, Jay Paterno ’91 and Scott Paterno ’97 began engaging with followers. More lettermen organized.

And Lubrano pushed his case harder Friday in the board’s public meeting.

First, Keith Eckel, chair of the legal and compliance committee, invited Frazier to “remind us what the thought process was surrounding the Freeh report.” Frazier largely repeated his defense of the report from Thursday’s separate committee meeting (the Centre Daily Times has a good summary here), although he did apologize for making an O.J. Simpson analogy: He had referred to Bill Cluck ’82, who had questioned him, as “one of the few people in this country that looks like you who actually believes the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict was correct.”

On the Freeh report, Frazier said in part: “The facts are the facts. And the contemporaneous emails and other documentation are among the most important evidence produced. … The documents appear to show, in varying degrees, by date and by individual, that people who were in a position to protect kids did not do so.” And he reiterated his desire to not re-examine the Freeh report because that would be “rewriting history.”

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Anthony Lubrano, seen in this file photo, questioned the validity of the Freeh report.

Which prompted this response from Lubrano, who wants Louis Freeh and Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor who wrote part of the Paterno family’s report, to meet with the board: “I understand that Ken says he doesn’t want to rewrite history. But I’m not sure history was correct.”

Loud applause.

“This isn’t grandstanding,” Lubrano added. “This is a serious matter. This is a very, very serious matter. Like the rest of you, I love this institution. What I understand in dealing with the alumni community is this very simple fact: They too love Penn State. And they don’t feel that due process and truth was something we had here.”

That was the crux of the discussion between the two men. Among the other points they touched on was whether the engagement letter promising that Freeh investigators would turn over evidence to the state attorney general was irregular; Lubrano questioned it, but Frazier said such a clause is standard procedure when an investigation overlaps in time with an ongoing criminal investigation.

And then former football player Adam Taliaferro ’05, who has rarely spoken in full board meetings since he was elected 10 months ago, chimed in:

“I’ve been an active listener since I joined the board,” he said. “As you can see, we’ve got very smart people on this board and very different positions on the hows and whys. We all know what the ‘what’ is. I do believe that bringing in people and asking the hows and whys would help us, I think, move forward. I think we all want to move forward. For me, I know it would help me better understand each side. Because I come here with my own preconceived notions. It’s hard for me not to.”

This prompted Alvin Clemens ’59 to speak: “The problem here is there’s a bit of divide between the alumni and the board. We all won’t be on board until we somehow smoke this out.” He said he wanted to know why NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly mentioned the 1998 incident, which was investigated by the authorities, and why state authorities weren’t monitoring Jerry Sandusky after that 1998 investigation, although no charges were filed.

At this point, 29 minutes after the legal committee report began with Frazier’s Freeh report explanation, Jim Broadhurst ’65 suggested that it was time to move on to the next item on the committee’s agenda. Many of the public in attendance booed, but the board did move on.

So what’s next? Will Freeh and/or Thornburgh be invited to address the board? Will the discussion continue?

Board chair Keith Masser ’73 said afterward that the way to bring any such item to the full board is to go through the appropriate committee—in this case, legal and compliance—and ask the committee chair to have the committee vote. (That’s what the governance and long-range planning committee did during its Thursday meeting with the changes to the board structure. But that’s a subject for an upcoming blog post.) He and vice chair Stephanie Deviney ’97g said they would assure that that would follow up with the appropriate chair, Eckel.

I feel like I end a lot of scandal- and trustees-related posts like this, but it’s always appropriate: Stay tuned.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm 127 comments

Catching Up on My Sandusky Reading

Most of the news media that swarmed all over town in early November are gone—at least for now. I do see a big truck marked “Court TV In Session” parked along College Avenue on my way to work each morning, but for the most part the frenzy seems to have subsided.

(I’m sure the media will descend again as Dec. 13, the date of the preliminary hearing for Jerry Sandusky, approaches. See this story from the Centre Daily Times about the expected influx of reporters and cameras on the 13th.)

Meanwhile, at the magazine offices we’re focused pretty intently on trying to finish the January-February issue, which will be devoted almost entirely to the crisis and its fallout. And we’re also trying to keep up with online coverage of the scandal: Penn State may not be the lead story on the TV news anymore (thank goodness), but there’s still a steady stream of newspaper and magazine coverage on the Web.

I’ve already posted two previous lists of articles that I think are worth reading (here and here). In case you haven’t reached the saturation point yet, here are 10 that I’ve read more recently that I’d also recommend:

1. “My Second Mile: How I Grew Up With The Now-Doomed Organization.” Thomas L. Day ’03, who first wrote about the scandal for the Washington Post, is back with a piece at Deadspin.com about his own experience as a Second Mile kid. It was a good experience and, he says, somehow the news media doesn’t want to hear about those.

2. “Missteps at Every Turn.” In this week’s Sports Illustrated, a harsh look at Penn State’s handling of the events, especially the naming of Ken Frazier ’75 to chair the Trustees’ special investigations task force and Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g as acting athletic director.

3. “Rich in Success, Rooted in Secrecy.” This ran in the New York Times more than a week ago, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until now. It’s a profile of former Penn State President Graham Spanier and the mixed (more…)

December 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm 2 comments

Trustees Tap Former FBI Director Louis Freeh

Louis-Freeh

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will lead an investigation of Penn State’s role in the Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. Ken Frazier ’75, who is chairing the investigative committee appointed by the Board of Trustees, announced at a news conference this morning that Freeh has been brought in.

The Trustees originally said on Nov. 11 that they would create a special investigation committee to “undertake a full and complete investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the grand jury report [on alleged sexual assaults committed on children by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g].

“The committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure that this never happens again,” according to a news release.

But some people have argued that an internal committee of the Trustees can’t be counted on to do a thorough and unflinching investigation of the University. And last Friday, the University Faculty Senate passed a resolution requesting that “there be an independent special committee whose chair and the majority of whose members have never been affiliated with Penn State.”

The decision to hire Freeh (and others in Freeh’s law firm) apparently is an effort to bring in some of the independence and outside perspective that the Faculty Senate and others have asked for. Freeh served as FBI director from 1993–2001; in his career he’s also been a U.S. Attorney, a federal district court judge, and an FBI agent. He has no known Penn State ties.

The members of the trustees’ investigative committee were also announced this morning; they include six trustees, the chair of the Faculty Senate, a doctoral student in higher education (Rodney Hughes, a former student member of the Board of Trustees), and Penn State Distinguished Alumnus and former astronaut Guion Bluford ’64. You can read more about that, as well as the full text of Frazier’s and Freeh’s prepared remarks this morning, in this news release from Penn State.

Tina Hay, editor

November 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm 1 comment


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