Penn State Integrity Monitor Lauds Progress, Recommends Ending Monitorship Two Years Early
One of the many dubious parts of the 2012 NCAA consent decree and the Athletics Integrity Agreement was the establishment of an integrity monitor, who was tasked with issuing quarterly updates on Penn State’s ethics and compliance following the Sandusky report. That integrity monitorship will be no more after this year, as Charles Scheeler, who succeeded Sen. George Mitchell as Penn State’s integrity monitor, recommended in his latest report released today that the reviews are no longer necessary and will end two years before the original 2017 agreement.
“Both Senator Mitchell and I are grateful to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference for the responsibility they placed with us,” Scheeler wrote in the report. “We are also grateful to the many Penn State officials with whom we worked. Their accomplishments over the last three years are remarkable and were undertaken with the best interests of the University at heart. Their unfailing cooperation made our work much easier. It was a privilege to observe and report upon the reformation and strengthening of a great University.”
Penn State has been lauded in each report issued by Mitchell and Scheeler to this point, as the university implemented virtually every Freeh report recommendation immediately following the maligned July 2012 report. As such, Scheeler says that both the NCAA and Big Ten have accepted his recommendation to end his duties at the end of the fall semester.
“The end of this monitorship, essentially two years early, is the result of a focused, dedicated effort on the part of Penn State, and an awful lot of hard work from many, many individuals, from the Board of Trustees on down,” President Barron said in a press release. “It is yet another significant milestone in the University’s recovery from an extraordinarily difficult and challenging set of circumstances, and I would be remiss if I did not recognize Penn State leaders and employees who worked diligently to implement hundreds of significant and meaningful changes in a short period of time, changes that have made us a leader in higher education on compliance issues.”
Penn State adopted virtually all 119 of Freeh’s recommendations for better governance and oversight. Most of the recommendations involved common sense restructuring the various reporting mechanisms at the university, but some, such as restricting access to the university’s recreation facilities, have been met with criticism. Nonetheless, Penn State maintains that other institutions are looking to Penn State and emulating its progress. Rutgers created an athletics integrity position similar to Penn State’s athletics integrity officer, and the Department of Defense sought guidance from the university on programs to address violence against women.
“Penn State’s progress has been noticed by others,” Scheeler said in the release. “Moody’s Investor Services specifically cited ‘significantly strengthened governance and management practices’ in rating the University Aa2 with a positive outlook… in reaccrediting Penn State this spring, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education also commented that ‘many institutions talk about integrity, but Penn State lives integrity.”
Whether Penn State ever needed this sort of (very expensive) oversight or not is a question for another time. For now, though, it is over. You can read the full report below: