Mitchell lauds Penn State’s progress

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State has made notable progress in its adoption of reforms meant to protect children from sexual predators like former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the university’s independent monitor said in an annual report.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor, issued his first year-end report on Friday.

The university has implemented most of the 119 recommendations laid out in former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report last summer, Mitchell said. The NCAA required Penn State to adopt the recommendations as part of its consent decree with the university.

“The amount of resources, time and energy devoted to these efforts has been notable. We have been impressed by the professionalism of those leading this undertaking,” the report said.

The consent decree imposed a $60 million fine on the university, temporarily reduced its scholarships and banned it from postseason play for four years. It followed the release of Penn State’s scathing internal review, led by Freeh, into how school officials handled complaints about Sandusky’s behavior with boys in 1998 and 2001.

The family of late football coach Joe Paterno and others call the Freeh report deeply flawed and are suing the NCAA over the sanctions.

“While parties may continue to argue about the history that led to the Freeh report and the (consent decree), a consensus has developed that the principles of the heart of these reforms are best practices for the governance of any large university,” Mitchell’s report said.

Despite finding that Penn State is making progress, Mitchell did not recommend that the NCAA relax the sanctions. Mitchell said Penn State still needs to upgrade security measures at some facilities, improve records retention, and correct campus “culture” problems.

“The favorable report is a significant milestone for us, but it does not represent the conclusion of our efforts,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement.

Sandusky, 69, was convicted last year of molesting 10 boys. He is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence and has maintained his innocence. A state appeals court will hear arguments in his challenge to the conviction on Sept. 17.

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