Lack of Oversight at Penn State Led to Scandal
The Freeh Report says that the Sandusky scandal revealed “weaknesses of the university culture.”
In the recommendations portion of the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, investigators admitted that while there were numerous individual failings, “it also reveals weaknesses of the university culture, governance, administration, compliance policies and procedures for protection.”
The report indicates that a special investigative unit provided several recommendations to the board and university in January suggesting they reform policies and guidelines related to the protection of children.
The university worked on many of those issues—strengthening policies to protect minors, encouraging prompt reporting of incidents of sexual misconduct, conducting abuse-awareness training for all levels of university officials, including top leadership, and increasing compliance with the Jean Clery Disclosure of Campus Security.
“One of the most challenging tasks confronting the university community in an open, honest and thorough examination of the culture that underlies the failure of Penn State’s most powerful leaders to respond appropriately to Sandusky’s crimes,” the recommendations portion of the report stated.
Specific recommendations included:
- To organize a Penn State-led effort to “vigorously examine an understand the Penn State culture in order to reinforce … and promote an environment of increased transparency.”
- To review and evaluate its organizational structure. “In various ways, the university administrative structure, the absence of poor enforcement of policies related to policies related to the protection of children and employee misconduct and the lack of ethic-based action created an environment in which (university leaders) were able to make decisions to avoid bad publicity.
- To realign and refocus the responsibility of the university’s board of directors and operations—improving internal and external practices and strengthen polices and procedures. “The board’s over-confidence in Spanier’s abilities, and its failure to conduct oversight and responsible inquiry of Spanier and senior university officials, hindered the board’s ability to deal properly with the most profound crisis ever confronted by the university.”
- To ensure compliance with laws, regulations and mandates. “The university’s incomplete implementation of the Clery Act was a contributing factor in the failure to report the 2001 child sexual abuse committed by Sandusky.
- To fully involve the university’s athletic department, providing training to ensure compliance with the laws governing a safe environment for children. “For the past several decades, the university’s athletic department was permitted to become a closed community,” the report stated. “There was little personnel turnover or hiring from outside and strong internal loyalty.” The report continued: “The athletic department was perceived in the Penn State community as ‘an island’ where staff members lived by their own rules.”
- To improve oversight of staff members responsible for youth programs, and increase abuse awareness and awareness of policies regarding children and access to the university. “Over the years, university policies for non-student minors were inconsistently implemented through the university,” the report indicated. “Enforcement of those policies was uneven and even uncoordinated and as a result Sandusky was allowed to conduct (events) without any direct oversight by university officials.