President Barron Pledges to Review Freeh Report
President Barron was supposed to address the media after Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting about a “very important” subject, according to the public relations people. Because the meeting went long — the longest in the last several years, in fact — Barron was unable to make the promised press row visit. It is now clear what exactly Barron intended to discuss.
Charles Thompson of the Harrisburg-Patriot News has the exclusive — President Barron will launch an official presidential review of the raw materials that went into the Freeh report.
“If there are issues [with the report’s completeness or credibility] that I felt the board needed to know about, I committed myself to come forward to them and report what it is that I found,” Barron told the Patriot-News. “I committed myself that I would spend the time to do that … and I will come back to [the trustees] and tell them if there are issues, or no, I do not feel there are issues.”
The Freeh report, which faulted Penn State’s entire culture for Jerry Sandusky’s actions not being reported sooner, was a controversial document from the start. Numerous trustees have fought against its validity, despite the non-alumni elected part of the Board collectively choosing to ignore its purported inadequacies in the name of moving on. In any case, Barron vowed to waive Penn State’s attorney-client privileges to conduct the most comprehensive review.
“I’m reviewing it with legal counsel so that as I’m examining it I’m advised of the legal significance of the things that I find,” Barron told the Patriot News. “I really don’t want people to be looking at us, saying: ‘They’re hiding something…I feel strongly about this notion that I don’t want it to look like we’re hiding anything.”
Barron reportedly discussed his plan during executive session Friday morning. He’s in a unique position — he wasn’t around when a few of the more powerful trustees accepted responsibility for the Freeh report before actually reading it, and can maintain a position of independence. How long the investigation will take is still to be determined.
“I just told them I would move with all deliberate speed,” Barron said.
UPDATE: 11/15 2:50 p.m. — President Barron just released another statement:
“On Friday, I informed the University’s Board of Trustees that I will conduct a thorough review of the Freeh Report and supporting materials produced during the course of the investigation. The contents of the report have led to questions by some in the Penn State community. I do not want people to believe that Penn State is hiding something. I feel strongly about this. For this important reason, and since I was not here during its completion, I will conduct my own review. There is considerable documentation to analyze, but I assured the Board I would move with all deliberate speed.”
— Eric J. Barron