Costas Show Discusses Freeh Report, Lawsuit to be Filed Tomorrow
Emmy-award winning journalist Bob Costas, along with Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers, former Pennsylvania governor Dick Thornburgh, and Paterno spokesman Dan McGinn, discussed the Freeh report and Paterno’s legacy on NBC Wednesday night for nearly an hour, honoring a promise Costas made to reevaluate his initial opinion on the maligned report. Sollers also introduced a lawsuit against the NCAA, its president Mark Emmert, and former NCAA Executive Board chair Ed Ray, which is expected to be filed Thursday morning at the Common Pleas Court.
“There is one man who was never charged and can no longer defend himself, but Joe Paterno has many defenders and supporters,” said Costas. “What we are acknowledging that there are sober and credible people who have issues with the Freeh report, and they deserve to be heard.”
Costas said he invited both Mark Emmert and Louis Freeh to appear on the show, but both declined, as has been the standard response from the two men since the Freeh report was released. What we were left with was three staunch Paterno supporters — two of which are currently being paid for services from the family, one of which was paid to write a report by the family — and Costas in a relatively one-sided show. That’s not to say that their opinions were invalid, but a balanced counterargument was noticeably absent, and it robbed the guests of any potential to “win” an argument against a Paterno dissenter.
“There is not one iota of evidence anywhere that there was a coverup or any reason for a coverup,” Sollers said. “We don’t know what Freeh’s motivations were. We just know he got it wrong.”
Costas played the role of the public opinion at large, often asking questions as if he was an average person who feels that Paterno maliciously mishandled the Sandusky situation. Costas, however, acknowledged that much of the general public is likely uninformed.
“Most sports fans know what the Freeh report is but I’d guess less than 1 percent of them actually read the Freeh report,” he said.
McGinn says that the Board of Trustees actions and inactions after the Freeh report was released led to the misguided public perception about Penn State. Sollers agreed, saying “the board panicked and there was a failure of leadership. What ended up occurring was failed governance.”
The big news came in the second segmenet of the show when Sollers outlined a lawsuit that will be filed tomorrow against the NCAA. The Paterno family, other community members, several Penn State trustees, and former players are party to the lawsuit.
“The one thing everyone should agree on is that the Sandusky scandal deserves a thorough, fair and careful review,” Sollers said. “The victims of Sandusky, the community of State College, the Second Mile and everyone associated with Penn State deserve to know the full truth of what happened. The NCAA’s actions sought to limit the knowledge of the case and trample the rights of the individuals and institutions that were unfairly and inaccurately blamed by the Freeh report.”
Participants include Penn State trustees Ryan McCombie, Anthony Lubrano, Al Clemens, Peter Khoury, and Adam Taliaferro; faculty members Peter Bordi, Terry Engelder, Spencer Niles and John O’Donnell; former Penn State football coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno; and former Penn State football players, Anthony Adams, Gerald Cadogan, Shamar Finney, Justin Kurpeikis, Richard Gardner, Josh Gaines, Patrick Mauti, Anwar Phillips, and Michael Robinson.
“This case is further proof that the NCAA has lost all sense of its mission. If there was ever a situation that demanded meticulous review and a careful adherence to NCAA rules and guidelines, this was it. Instead, the NCAA placed a premium on speed over accuracy and precipitous action over due process,” Sollers said.
The lawsuit charges NCAA, Emmert, and Ray with six different counts, including breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation, and commercial disparagement.
“An illegally imposed penalty that is based on false assumptions and secret discussions is a disservice to the victims and everyone else who cares about the truth of the Sandusky scandal,” Sollers said. “This matter will never be resolved until the full facts are reviewed in a lawful and transparent manner.”
The 40-page lawsuit asserts the NCAA and the other defendants engaged in “unlawful conduct” by breaching their contractual obligations and violating their duties of good faith and fair dealing. It will seek the removal of the sanctions, a public disownment of the Freeh report, and punitive damages. Sollers said that any punitive damages the NCAA might pay to the Paterno family will be donated to charity.
“They don’t want a cent,” he said.
As the show wrapped up, Costas acknowledged that the segment lacked a point/counterpoint aspect, but acknowledged that it was a conversation worth having. The common message remained the same — the Freeh report is based on speculation, and the NCAA acted illegally and egregiously when it forced the consent decree on Penn State.
“This is the most important investigation in the history of that university and the NCAA,” McGinn said. “It should be done right.”
Check back here tomorrow morning to read the lawsuit after it is filed.