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College Sports, Division I, Division II, Division III, Education

Did Emmert False Start?: Freeh Firm Source Questions NCAA’s Use of Report

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a person connected to the report prepared by the firm of former FBI director Louis Freeh, which included critical findings concerning  Penn State’s handling of former football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual-abuse acts, stated the NCAA should not have based its unprecedented sanctions against the institution on the firm’s investigative work. The anonymous source told the Chronicle the “document was not meant to be used as the sole piece, or the large piece, of the NCAA’s decision making” and that the report “was meant to be a mechanism to help Penn State move forward. To be used otherwise creates an obstacle to the institution changing”. The 267-page Freeh report, which was issued on July12, 2012, determined that then-Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, then-president Graham Spanier, then-athletic director Tim Curley and then-vice-president Gary Schultz “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade”. Sandusky was convicted recently of 45 criminal counts of abusing 10 boys and is awaiting sentencing by a state court.

On July 23, 2012, the NCAA imposed severe sanctions against Penn State, including: (a) a $60 million fine; (b) a four-year postseason ban; (c) a four-year reduction of grants-in-aid; (d) five years of probation; and (e) vacation of wins in the football program since 1998. During the July 23 press conference announcing the penalties, according to ESPN, NCAA president Mark Emmert claimed the Association used the Freeh report in its decision making because the document was “vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation we’ve ever conducted”. However, the anonymous source indicated otherwise (according to the Chronicle article):

  • “The Freeh team reviewed how Penn State operated, not how they worked within the NCAA’s system. The NCAA’s job is to investigate whether Penn State broke its rules and whether it gained a competitive advantage in doing so”.
  • Freeh’s firm did not interview Paterno, Schultz or Curley—which prevented a comprehensive understanding of the timeline and facts. The source indicated the NCAA was expected to follow-up the areas not covered or addressed in the report. In particular, the NCAA “should have clarified the ‘narrow focus’ of the Freeh group’s work, the source said, which was to provide the facts about Penn State’s leaders, giving a sense of how decisions were made and how the university was governed”.

President Emmert should explain: the NCAA’s methodology used to review the Freeh report; why additional fact-finding by the enforcement staff was not initiated to plug the report’s holes; and the need to issue sanctions before the NCAA completed its due-diligence of the report and collect additional crucial facts.

The full article can be located by clicking here.


About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.


2 thoughts on “Did Emmert False Start?: Freeh Firm Source Questions NCAA’s Use of Report

  1. Given the fact that the report has proven to contain substantial errors and that a member of the Freeh commission itself has spoken out against the NCAA’s use of its findings, any reasonable person can see there was a rush to judgment.

    Particularly troubling is the harm being done to student athletes who upheld high academic, ethical and competitive standards; truly Success With Honor. Please spend 60 seconds to help restore their legacy…


    Posted by Jeff Christian | July 30, 2012, 11:41 am
  2. What scares me the most and should also concern every college in the NCAA is the precedence set by the NCAA as to what happens in every sports facility on every campus. They now say they can dole out punishment for just an accusation made by anyone in any locker room, shower or court if it is used for or by an athlete. I don’t know about you but it scares me!

    Also, is the NCAA going to account for where every dollar of the sanction money goes? Or will it go to pad thier pockets?

    Posted by Bonnie Spetzer | August 2, 2012, 1:36 pm

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