President Barron “Not A Fan” of the Freeh Report
President Eric Barron made perhaps his most definitive statement on the Freeh report to date in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press today, saying that he is “not a fan of the report.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind, Freeh steered everything as if he were a prosecutor trying to convince a court to take the case,” Barron said, adding that Freeh “very clearly paints a picture about every student, every faculty member, every staff member and every alum. And it’s absurd. It’s unwarranted. So from my viewpoint the Freeh report is not useful to make decisions.”
The Freeh report, of course, not only implicated former President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, VP for Finance & Business Gary Schultz, and Joe Paterno in a calculated coverup of child sexual abuse, but it implicated the entire culture at Penn State as the reason for the concealment. That report — and Freeh’s reputation — have come under intense scrutiny since he released the report, which most people paying attention to this story would say makes some significant reaches in logic. However, this is the first time anyone from the President’s Office at Penn State (or any of Penn State’s leaders in general) has publicly criticized the report. Former President Rodney Erickson, as well as Board of Trustees leadership, have refused to refute any of the report’s conclusions in the time since it was released.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of shoes that have to drop. You could argue that public opinion has found us guilty before the criminal trials,” Barron continued. “There’s no doubt in my mind what was completely and totally wrong was the notion that this entire alumni base, our students, our faculty, our staff, got the blame for what occurred.”
Barron’s position on the Freeh report has remained somewhat guarded before today. The AP interview comes only two days after a Daily Collegian profile quoted him as saying “The Freeh report, I don’t think, has a great deal of significance for the institution at this point in time.” Barron has previously pledged to conduct a thorough review of the Freeh report himself, but has remained silent on its progress.
Barron also weighed in on the now nullified NCAA sanctions in the AP interview today, saying that the NCAA overreached in its decision to sanction the football team (also something his predecessor and Board leadership have refused to do).
“I think it’s increasingly clear that none of the things that transpired had any impact on the field,” Barron said. “And therefore I think almost universally, people say, well, those teams win those games. I think it’s equally clear that in almost every instance we pay a penalty if we don’t follow a process. And the NCAA stepped out of their process.”
Kudos to President Barron for saying something that no one in Old Main has had the courage to say in three years.