Subject: Pennsylvania State University
Date: July 22, 2012
The undersigned is counsel to Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (“PS4RS”), a group of over 5,000 individuals affiliated with Pennsylvania State University (the “University”) as alumni, students, benefactors, and friends. This email is in relation to your proposed announcement of “unprecedented” sanctions against the University in connection with certain criminal actions of a former Assistant Football Coach and tenured professor emeritus at the University.
Time and space prevent me from outlining that which you already know – your organization is wholly without power to sanction the University for the events related to the above. It is beyond comprehension how the NCAA can possibly believe it has the power to control events that do not violate NCAA rules, nor how the NCAA can issue punishment without ever even launching an investigation in accordance with your own rules. However, we can, at this point, agree to disagree on that issue, though you can be most certain that the issue will be addressed.
The immediate issue relates to the concept of imposing sanctions on the University based, in whole or in part, upon the findings of an internal investigation commissioned by the University’s Board of Trustees (“BoT”) and conducted by the private law firm of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan (“FSS”). The investigation culminated in a 267 page report (the “FSS Report”) which was issued on July 12, 2012.
My client has engaged our firm to conduct a comprehensive review of the FSS Report. While we have only begun our work, upon even a cursory review, we have determined that the FSS Report is fraught with factual and legal errors, filled with opinions and unsupported conclusions, and, in a word, faulty. To rely on such a report to issue punishment of any kind would be beyond reckless.
Lest you be misled by the frenzied media reports, the FSS Report, and the individuals who were paid to conduct it, are far from infallible. In this regard, I would refer you to the recent decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in connection with an alleged election bribery case involving a former FIFA presidential candidate. In its decision, that Court lifted a lifetime ban on the individual based, in part, upon the fact that that an internal investigation by FSS on behalf of FIFA, which led to the ban, was “not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record.” These same concerns, and more, are most certainly present here.
On behalf of my client, I urge you to reconsider your position. Knee-jerk reactions based upon faulty and incomplete information have been the hallmark of the events that have transpired at the University over the last 8 months. The FSS Report is less than 10 days old, and the 2 other University employees charged with crimes have not even had their day in Court. Should the NCAA move forward tomorrow, whether with the concurrence of the University’s administrators or not, you will add yet another sad chapter in a saga that simply has not been fully reviewed and, unfortunately, your actions will set in motion litigation that could be avoided if appropriate consideration is given to the actual facts.
Please be guided accordingly.
Robert J. Tribeck, Esquire
Rhoads & Sinon LLP
One South Market Square, 12th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101