As Penn State trustees discussed on Saturday NCAA penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and implementation of the Louis Freeh report's recommendations, chairwoman Karen Peetz warned of difficult times ahead as the school tries to make changes.
The months ahead "may be less shocking, but they may well be more difficult as the legal ramifications of this tragedy continue to play out," The Associated Press quoted Peetz as saying at a public meeting Saturday that was part of an on-campus retreat. "We must be prepared to address these issues head on," she added.
Peetz, who clarified that the meeting was informational only and no motions would be moved, said the board was committed to making changes and was reviewing plans to implement recommendations of the report by former FBI director Freeh, which concluded that top Penn State officials were complicit in "conceal[ing] Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities" to avoid bad publicity.
"There are some with differing opinions, some who say 'Fight back,'" she was quoted as saying. "While I'm respectful of those individuals, let me be clear: We must not and will not waiver in accepting responsibility and reality. We'll take decisive actions to right wrongs, change and improve processes and operations, and demonstrate values-based leadership in all we do."
Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was recently convicted for sexually abusing boys over a 15-year period. He now awaits sentencing.
"We are entering a new era of high standards of corporate governance, where the university's – and this board of trustees' – deliberations and actions are open and transparent," Peetz said in her opening statement. "Except for limited sensitive, legal or individual personnel matters, the board meetings will be open and available to all."
Addressing the board, trustee Joel Myers spoke about the sanctions by National Collegiate Athletic Association, which include a four-year bowl ban and a $60 million fine. Calling the NCAA "a petulant child gone wild," he said he believes the vacated wins – 111 in total between 1998 and 2011 – were not fair.
At a special board meeting held via conference call about a fortnight ago, the majority supported Penn State President Rodney Erickson's decision to sign the binding consent decree that accepted the sanctions.
Erickson took over as president after Graham Spanier lost his job after Sandusky was charged.
Trustees Vice Chairman Keith Masser outlined the "structured response" Penn State will take to implement Freeh's recommendations for the university, according to Centre Daily Times. The response teams will be made up of trustees and administrators and will also include an external response team to monitor the process.
The recommendations of the report included evaluating security and access protocols for all campus buildings, better tracking university programs involving children and abuse awareness, and reporting training for faculty, coaches and staff.
The board will reconvene from Sunday morning for another public session.