Paterno family releases counter to Freeh report

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Friday afternoon, it was reported that the Paterno family, alongside a legal team, would release a counter to the Freeh report roughly 180 pages long.

Sunday morning, the family did just that.

“We conclude that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded, and have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State University community, but also to the victims of Jerry Sandusky and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization,” the report reads.

You can read the entire report HEREbut here are some highlights of the critique (which are being updated as we go through it):

  • The critique comes right out swinging: “[The]

    Freeh report is deeply flawed in its investigative processes and methodology, in its

    access to information, and in its reasoning based on the record, and that ultimately it draws

    unreliable, unfair and incorrect conclusions as to Joe Paterno.”

  • Specifically, the counter states the Freeh did not properly support its findings concerning Paterno’s knowledge the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky. Even more specifically, it attacks the Freeh’s documentation of a 1998 email thread and the ambiguity of the word “coach”, presumably Paterno, as a microcosm for poor fact-finding and confirmation.
  • The report claims that the entire Penn State community, including Joe Paterno, was “fooled” by Jerry Sandusky and his pedophilia. It goes so far as to say that Paterno “fell victim to effective ‘grooming'” from Sandusky.
  • The cirtique brings up a fair criticism: the Freeh group did not interview athletic director Tim Curley or VP Gary Schultz. Only former president Graham Spanier.
  • Regarding the 2001 incident between Sandusky and Victim 2, the money quote has been and continues to be the email from Curley to Schultz and Spanier on Feb. 27, 2001:

    “After giving it some more thought and talking it

    over with Joe yesterday — I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.” The critique states that the Freeh report made the assumption that Paterno altered the path of what was to be done about the incident.

  • Regarding the 2000 incident where a janitor saw Sandusky molesting a victim, the critique says there is no link that the witness would have lost his job over reporting what he saw because of Paterno’s power within Penn State.
  • The portion of the review written by Dick Thornburgh actually does a persuasive job of poking holes in the Freeh group’s technique. As our good friend Kevin McGuire of the Examiner pointed out earlier today, if you were to present the Freeh report and the Paterno report in a court of law, where proving something beyond a reasonable doubt is the goal, the Paterno report would probably have an edge.
  • Thorburgh counters that Paterno put football above the safety of others. “The assertion that Mr. Paterno lacked empathy for children and/or victims of child abuse is contradicted by his long history of charitable work and dedication to the development of young men,” Thornburgh states.
  • The report throws the blame of how the 2001 incident was handled on Mike McQueary. “In my opinion, based on investigating, consulting on, and studying thousands of similar cases, it is more reasonable to conclude that these five men did not understand the true nature of Sandusky’s actions because McQueary did not convey what he thought he had conveyed to them.”
  • The critique says the Freeh report “mischaracterized” the 2001 emails sent among Curley, Schultz and Spanier where a more “humane and upfront” approach was discussed in handling the accusations against Sandusky. “Hence, there was no change in plans,” the report states. “[Paterno] was not an intervening cause in any change of plans… with regard to conditionally notifying the DPW. Therefore, there was no conspiracy or any agreement to conceal.”
  • The tone, from start to finish, was that there is no evidence to support claims that Paterno knew of Sandusky’s pedophilia, or that he made a concerted effort to cover it up if he did know. There is also a direct implication in the critique that the Freeh report deliberately chose what to include and what not to include in its report to fit its findings.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.

Eastern Michigan extends Chris Creighton through 2022

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Eastern Michigan has extended head coach Chris Creighton through 2022, the school has announced.

“I feel as though we have made progress all the way through,” Creighton said in a statement. “The vision of making the football program a real source of pride for the department, the university, the alumni, we are making progress, but that vision has not been realized yet.

“So I’m really excited about our program and the Championship Building Plan. There is a lot of momentum going on right now.”

Creighton is 10-27 in three seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, but that mark obscures the progress EMU made in his third season. After starting 3-21, Eastern Michigan rocketed to a 7-6 mark in 2016 with a Bahamas Bowl trip, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.

The new deal raises Creighton’s base salary by 2.5 percent, according to MLive. He made a total of $434,840 in 2016, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Beer sales approved for Marshall home football games

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Let the beer taps start flowing at the next home Marshall football game. The University announced today that beer sales at Joan C. Edwards Stadium have been approved by the Board of Governors starting this fall.

This is the latest decision in an evolving stance on alcohol sales at Marshall. Last year, the school began expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine from the Big Green Room to chairback seating. Now, the majority of fans attending a football game in Huntington will be able to purchase alcohol. The expanded alcohol sales plan will help to build the infrastructure of Marshall’s facilities moving forward.

“This is a continuation of our goal to provide more amenities for our fan base that makes attending Marshall Football games a more enjoyable experience,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said in a released statement. “We have played a lot of winning football in our stadium over the past five years and we have great opponents such as Pittsburgh, Boise State, North Carolina State, and Navy just to name a few over the next five years, and it is imperative that the investment in our fan experience matches our football brand.”

Marshall will keep some sections of the football stadium free of alcohol for those fans who wish not to be near the booze-loaded fans.

The announcement was coupled with some other stadium news regarding the future renovation plans for the football stadium. Construction on the west side of the stadium should be completed by August, in time for the start of the 2017 college football season. The southwest side of the stadium will have a new retail location for fans.