STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A former U.S. senator brought in to monitor Penn State said Friday the university has gotten "off to a very good start" in responding to NCAA sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
George Mitchell's first quarterly report as Penn State's athletics integrity monitor noted there was a looming deadline to complete a set of reforms, including implementation of a college sports code of conduct, but he said he believes university officials are acting in good faith.
"The university's efforts have resulted in tangible achievements," Mitchell wrote. "Many formal policies have been revised or adopted, including policies to govern background checks for university employees, access to athletics and recreational facilities, protection of children involved in university-affiliated activities, and the duties to report possible child abuse."
The 68-year-old Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted this summer of abusing several boys, some on campus. He's serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence but maintains he is innocent.
Three former university administrators, accused of covering up complaints about Sandusky's behavior and lying to a grand jury that investigated the case, have been charged with perjury, obstruction and other offenses. The three men, former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, who's on leave while the final year of his contract runs out, have denied the allegations against them.
Mitchell, who served as a Democratic U.S. senator from Maine in the 1980s and '90s, said more than 9,600 people at Penn State's dozens of campuses already have been trained about legal duties to report suspected child abuse. He noted that university ID is now required for entrance to athletic and recreational facilities and much more elaborate rules are in place for adults involved in programs for children on campus.
"There appears to be unanimity within the Penn State community that one outcome of this tragedy should be greater awareness of the prevalence of child abuse in society generally and the devotion of more university resources to prevent it where the university can play a role in doing so," Mitchell wrote.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said he was pleased with Penn State's progress.
"Penn State has taken the first important steps necessary to ensure a culture of athletics integrity and we look forward to seeing continued progress as the (athletics integrity agreement) is fully implemented," Emmert said.