Several lawmakers engaged in the fight against the NCAA penalties that flowed from its findings lightly grilled President Rodney Erickson for letting former FBI Director Louis Freeh‘s narrative stand last summer as the official word on the university’s management of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
That act of omission, Freeh and later state prosecutors have alleged, helped set the stage for assaults on several other boys over the next seven years.
Erickson ducked, arguing it is “not appropriate for me to comment on that question here in this kind of forum.”
Noting there are pending criminal and civil cases that still have to play out, Erickson said, “I think it’s appropriate that we let the investigative and the judicial process take its course Mr. Chairman, with all due respect.”
And Corman pounced.
“But when Penn State decided to release this report without any review or due diligence it already entered into the fray of these criminal trials and to the public discourse of how this matter is treated….”
Corman then acknowledged the pressures the university was under at the time, noting “there is no manual to walk yourself through this.”
But, he concluded, “I guess I wish you would have taken that same position prior to the (release of the) report, which has been used not only to punish Penn State” but to frame the public narrative of the case.
On the whole, it was a gentler version of similar critiques Erickson has already received at various alumni town halls, or that he and trustees routinely field at public board meetings these days.
But given that Corman is perhaps Penn State’s most influential ally in the state legislature, today’s back and forth was another forceful reminder that the Sandusky wounds have not yet healed.
Erickson fielded other questions during today’s hearings about the Freeh report from Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne County, and inquiries about the NCAA fine from Sen. Patricia Vance, R-Cumberland County