On July 18, 2012, Penn State Board of Trustees chairman Karen Peetz addressed the Penn State community in the immediate wake of the release of the Freeh Report--the report that resulted from former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.
The report concluded, or at the very least hinted, that university leaders including the late Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky's actions but failed to stop him, possibly out of fear that the bad publicity would reflect badly on either the football program or the university as a whole. The Paterno family would later deny those charges.
The report would eventually be accepted by the university and used as the basis on which the NCAA ultimately found justification for its historically harsh penalties against Penn State--penalties that included a four-year bowl ban, drastic scholarship reductions and a massive fine. And though some in the Penn State community--including a faculty grou--would later challenge the accuracy of the report, Peetz would become vocal in her stance that report needed to be accepted and that the university needed to accept its punishment and move forward.
The text of her July 18 statement read as follows:
The recent release of the Freeh Report marked one of the most sorrowful days in what has been without a doubt the most difficult chapter in our University's history. I am certain that many of you have read or heard about the report's findings, and you may have seen President Rodney Erickson's recent message on this topic. As the Chairman of the Board of Trustees since January of this year, I would like to also share my perspective on the Freeh report and our path forward as a Penn State family.
Clearly, no one has been hurt more than the victims of Mr. Sandusky's conduct and we must not lose sight of that fact. Additionally, as members of the University community, we all feel a personal sadness, disappointment and indeed, anger, over the failures of our leadership.
The Board of Trustees, as the group that has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring the proper functioning and governance of the University, accepts full responsibility for the failures cited in the Freeh Report. The Board, in cooperation with the Administration, will take every action to ensure that an event like this never happens again in our University community.
I want you to know that I see with great clarity that the future for this institution can be stronger than it has ever been before. Implementing the recommendations called for in the Freeh Report is one of the first steps we will take as we work to move forward. These recommendations include structural changes for the way the University is governed to ensure greater transparency and collaboration. President Erickson and I have appointed a special task force composed of both Board of Trustees members and senior members of his administration to ensure these recommendations are enacted with care and urgency, and positive changes have already begun to occur.
At the same time, progress will be about much more than responding to recommendations, but about evaluating the fundamental culture that is Penn State. As we move forward, we will work to rebuild a culture that will be shaped by the highest commitment to academics and athletics -- but ultimately, a culture of transparency and accountability that will be defined by the actions of men and women, in all positions across the university, committed to always doing the right thing without fail.