Pennsylvania State University trustees who tried in 2004 to strengthen the board’s oversight of President Graham Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno said the board’s failure to vote on proposed reforms may have helped keep Jerry Sandusky’s crimes under wraps, ESPN reported Wednesday. After reviewing the proposals, Spanier and the then-board chair, Cynthia Baldwin, declined to put them to a full vote, according to ESPN.
An independent report commissioned by Penn State and released last week indicated that Spanier kept the board in the dark regarding claims about Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who raped boys in football locker rooms, and faulted the trustees for not ensuring consistent reporting from Spanier and Paterno, the former head football coach. That report, written by the former FBI Director Louis Freeh, made no mention of the “good-governance proposal,” even though Freeh’s team interviewed trustees about it.
Long-time Penn State trustee Joel Myers told ESPN that if the board had adopted the proposal, “This [crisis] could have been avoided.” An unnamed trustee said the revelation could increase the board’s liability in impending negligence lawsuits filed by victims against Penn State, “possibly by millions.” Another board member reported that Freeh said that e-mails obtained during his investigation showed Spanier and Baldwin, who is now Penn State's general counsel, “didn’t want the added scrutiny.” But Baldwin’s lawyer told ESPN that she “did not in any way interfere with the board’s consideration” of the proposal and “was instrumental in facilitating a full discussion of those issues.” Spanier declined to comment for the ESPN article.