[author: Rachael Pepper]
Senator George J. Mitchell and his law firm, DLA Piper LLP (US), announced that yesterday he delivered his first annual report as the independent athletics integrity monitor under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (“AIA”) among The Pennsylvania State University, the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and the Big Ten Conference. The report describes Penn State’s efforts during the most recent 90-day period to fulfill its obligations under the AIA and the Consent Decree and serves as Senator Mitchell’s first annual account of the University’s progress in implementing the recommendations made in the July 2012 report by Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP pursuant to his separate role as the external monitor designated pursuant to Recommendation 8.2 of the Freeh Report.
“As of this first anniversary of my appointment as Monitor, Penn State has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh Report recommendations and of its annual obligations under the AIA,” Senator Mitchell said. During this most recent quarter, Penn State trained and received certifications from “Covered Persons” as to their responsibilities with respect to athletics compliance; the athletic director certified the Athletics Department’s efforts to comply with the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws and Big Ten Conference Handbook, including the principles of institutional control, responsibility, ethical conduct, and integrity; Penn State’s Director of University Ethics and Compliance continued to staff that new department by hiring a new compliance specialist for youth programs; Penn State approved a new policy addressing financial conflicts of interest and introduced a crisis management plan; an electronic platform was launched to track completion of mandatory training sessions; and the Athletics Department, the Office of Physical Plant, and the University Police continued to lead various ongoing projects to enhance security at University facilities used by minors.
“While much has been accomplished, important work remains to be done,” Senator Mitchell continued. “Penn State must maintain its focus on these ongoing initiatives while also fostering an environment in which its many undertakings will take root and thrive. By all indications thus far, the University has positioned itself well to meet this challenge,” Senator Mitchell concluded.
The AIA implements provisions of the binding consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State on July 23, 2012. Senator Mitchell was named the independent athletics integrity monitor after the consent decree was finalized. The monitor performs an independent role and is not an agent of Penn State, the NCAA, or the Big Ten Conference. The monitor will provide quarterly written reports to Penn State, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference during his tenure.