As the Freeh Report was released there was plenty of reaction, from shock and anger to sadness as we read in blakc and white that Joe Paterno may have played a larger role in the Penn State response to Jerry Sandusky's alleged (at the time) vile acts.
Paterno's successor, Bill O'Brien, is taking time to review the Freeh Report as thoroughly as possible and remains committed to ensuring that the proper procedures are taken to strengthen the integrity of the program moving forward. The following statement from O'Brien was shared yesterday by Penn State's athletic department.
"Today we received the results of the Freeh Group's investigation into what transpired at Penn State. I am carefully reading the report and recommendations with respect to the football department, including any gaps that may exist, to identify what changes can and should be made. I stand with the University leadership in a shared commitment to driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution. We can and we must do better. Nonetheless, I too remain proud of the accomplishments and character of Penn State's many generations of student-athletes, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure we emerge stronger than before."
How O'Brien moves the program forward still remains to be seen of course. He has been putting together a fine recruiting class for the Class of 2013, but there is a fair question out there now on whether or not he will be able to keep it all together as the NCAA continues to review Penn State's situation. At this point it would appear likely that Penn State could be on the receiving end of some form of NCAA sanctions for the first time in school history. While a death penalty will continue to be called for by some, that remains a very rare possibility unless more information pops up supporting it.
The more likely scenario for Penn State could result in a loss of scholarships and perhaps even a postseason or television ban. Again, those may be deemed sever punishments from the NCAA, who could take on more of a role of morality police. The NCAA does need to do something though. The details unearthed or confirmed in the Freeh Report deserve some form of response form the NCAA.
How O'Brien handles it will be a true test of his capabilities to run the program, but it would be unfair to speculate anything further until the NCAA eventually comes to a resolution.
Acting Director of Athletics Dave Joyner also released a statement. It reads:
"Earlier today we received, along with the general public, a first look at Judge Freeh's final report. I have read the report, and will continue to review it in closer detail in the coming days. The report concludes that individuals entrusted to positions of authority, shunned the basic responsibility to protect children, and innocent children suffered as a result. Moving forward, we must do everything within our capacity to restore trust in Penn State, and the Athletic Department will play a central and leading role in that process. Through these difficult times, we remain committed to the highest ideal and embodiment of the student-athlete, and we will emerge a stronger institution."