Leadership & Governance

July 10, 2012

The Freeh Report: Penn State’s Crisis in Leadership

How much did Pennsylvania State University officials know about the allegations against Jerry Sandusky? And why did no one act to stop him sooner?

Louis J. Freeh, the former FBI director, has released a long-awaited report that provides some answers. We're tracking developments—and taking stock of what's next, for Penn State and for its much-criticized former administrators.

NCAA Sanctions

On Monday the NCAA avoided hitting Penn State's football program with the so-called "death penalty," but levied severe sanctions against it, including:

1.) A $60-million fine.
2.) A four-year ban on postseason play.
3.) Five years of probation.
4.) A four-year reduction of grants-in-aid.
5.) Vacation of wins since 1998.

Analysis From The Chronicle

Overview: 'A Total Disregard' for Safety of Child Victims

The report describes a series of missteps across the university, from the athletic department to the Board of Trustees.

Interactive: Follow the Email Chains

Investigators uncovered dozens of e-mail messages in which top administrators discuss how to respond to allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

Leadership: A Powerful President Sought First to Protect Reputation

Thus far Graham Spanier has not faced criminal liability for his role. That may soon change.

Recommendations: A Call to Overhaul 'The Penn State Way'

In more than 100 bulleted suggestions, the document lays out how the university should change its culture, governance, and compliance policies.

Clery Act: 'Profound' Ignorance of Reporting Rule

It was a rare campus official who knew, in 2001, the full scope of his obligations under the federal campus-crime-reporting law.

By the Numbers

What They're Saying

Penn State | Read the full statement

"Judge Freeh's report concludes that certain people at the University who were in a position to protect children or confront the predator failed to do so. There can be no ambiguity about that."

Graham Spanier's attorneys | Read the full statement

"Judge Freeh’s conclusion ... that Dr. Spanier was engaged in a course of 'active concealment' is simply not supported by the facts or by the report itself."

Joe Paterno's family | Read the full statement

"Joe Paterno wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he regretted them. He is still the only leader to step forward and say that with the benefit of hindsight he wished he had done more."

Tim Curley's lawyer | Read more

"The Freeh Group was limited in its investigation by lack of subpoena power. ... The result is a lopsided document that leaves the majority of the story untold."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett | Read the full statement

"There are monsters among us; people who will hurt children for their own sexual gratification."

NCAA | Read the full statement

"[T]he university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond."

Penn State student leaders | Read the full statement

"The results of the investigation may leave us angry and shocked; but remember that WE the students will move the university forward from this situation."

Background on the Report

Documents uncovered by the Freeh Group may paint a damning portrait of Penn State's administrative decision making, if early reports are a guide.

July 1, 2012: Intimations of What Officials Knew

Officials huddled over the Sandusky allegations in 2001—and records show that the conversation was about "a report of suspected child abuse."

June 28, 2012: Probe Shifts to Awareness at Top Levels

The Freeh Group interviewed more than 400 people, focusing on what went on inside Old Main, the university's administrative building.

March 22, 2012: One Student's Look Inside the Investigation

Rodney Hughes, a member of Mr. Freeh's nine-person committee, explained why the Sandusky case is a seminal one.

The Key Players

Graham Spanier

President (1995-2011)

• Fired in November 2011 | Link
• Sued Penn State for access to messages found by Freeh | Link
• Background: Chose Not to Act on Allegations in 2001

Gary Schultz

Senior VP of finance and business (1993-2011)

• Resigned in November 2011 | Link
• Facing charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse
• Background: Kept a Secret File on Sandusky Investigation

Tim Curley

Athletic director (1993-2011)

• Resigned in November 2011 | Link
• Facing charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report abuse
• Background: Supported 'Professional Help' for Sandusky, Not Notification

Joe Paterno

Head football coach (1966-2011)

• Fired in November 2011 | Link
• Died in January 2012 | Link
• Background: E-Mails Show Influence on Disciplinary Matters

Wendell Courtney

Primary counsel (1980-2008)

• Acted as Penn State's chief lawyer
• Did pro bono work for The Second Mile, Jerry Sandusky's charity
• Background: Repeated Interventions on Paterno's Behalf


Which Officials Are Implicated? Read our breakdown

The report paints a damning portrait of how administrators handled sex-abuse charges. We've outlined what it says about the major players at Penn State—and what lies ahead for each of them.

What Does the Report Say? Read our annotations | Share your insights

The Freeh Report was released at 9 a.m. Thursday. Chronicle reporters are annotating the report in real time, providing insights on what the Freeh Group has found and what it means for the university.

If you're looking through the report, let us know what strikes you as meaningful—and we may post your observations online. We've posted the full report here.