No Penn State Trustees Plan to Resign
Three chastened members of the Penn State Board of Trustees answered questions for some 20 minutes after their public response to the report of the internal investigation into the university's handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
No trustees plan to resign, even in light of the investigation's findings that they shouldn't have settled for smokescreen answers from the university's top leaders when allegations against Sandusky first surfaced last March.
"We believe that we have a natural kind of evolution of the board by the fact that many new members join every year," said Karen Peetz, the board's chairwoman since January. "We think that consistency is important." She added that reforms to the Board and its relationship with the PSU administration are already in progress.
Trustee Kenneth Frazier, who chaired the effort to commission the probe, said the failure to press Graham Spanier for more details about child abuse allegations against Sandusky was wrapped up in the ousted president's own once-sterling reputation.
"We were delighted, as a board, to have Graham Spanier as our president," said Frazier. "We trusted him; based on all external appearances, we believed we were being told what was accurate. In retrospect, we were not told what was being accurate and so I am saying in retrospect, I believe we had probed more."
But Peetz confirmed what the report concluded: that top officials at Penn State were not forthcoming.
"We feel concerned and misled in the entire situation, although we are taking responsibility," said Peetz.
The investigation, led by judge and former FBI Director Louis Freeh, laid most of the blame for 14 years of silence about Sandusky at the feet of Spanier, two other administrators, and the late longtime coach Joe Paterno.
Peetz said Paterno's legacy is "now marred."
But Frazier rushed to caution against smearing Paterno, saying his life's work shouldn't be boiled down to the misdeeds detailed in the Freeh Report.
"Joe Paterno did a lot of tremendous things in his life, and there's a lot about his life that's worth emulating," said Frazier. "So if you try to sum it up, I say you have to measure every human by the good they've done, the bad they've done. I don't think any of us wants to be measured by the worst things we've ever done in our life."
In response to the Freeh Report's condemnations of the governance and football-dominant culture at Penn State, university president Rodney Erickson said he's committed to changing the leadership culture at Penn State, and working more closely with the Board of Trustees, but he hesitated to vilify the school's football program.
"The question is really, were there particular aspects about the football program that allowed some of these things to continue on? And we will, we will certainly look at that, but football has been an important part of the university," said Erickson.