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ESPN Outside the Lines: Baldwin, Spanier Blocked Trustees' Proposal for Governance Change

by on July 17, 2012 10:58 PM

Eight years ago, a small number of representatives from Penn State’s Board of Trustees approached then-president Graham Spanier and then-board chair Cynthia Baldwin with concerns that they had too much power.

According to documents obtained by ESPN Outside the Lines, seven members of the board approached the two with legislation reform called the good-governance proposal, which aimed to strengthen the board’s oversight power on top university leaders, including football coach Joe Paterno.

But Spanier and Baldwin ultimately dismissed it without putting it up to vote by the full board, according to the ESPN report.

This information has since come to light five days after former FBI director Louis Freeh’s damning report into the university’s governance missteps in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Joel Myers, the father of President and Publisher Dan Myers and a longtime trustee, told ESPN the Freeh investigators told him that if the good-governance proposal had been adopted by the board in 2004, the current crisis the university faces could have been avoided.

Two unnamed trustees told ESPN they fear the failure to adopt the good-governance proposal opens the university up to millions more in liability with civil suits aplenty looming.

According to the report, trustees also indicated the Freeh investigative team sought out information on the good-governance proposal and why it was never implemented.

The 267-page Freeh Report, however, makes no mention of such a reform policy. Here’s what it does say:

“The board's over-confidence in Spanier's abilities, and its failure to conduct oversight and responsible inquiry of Spanier and senior university officials, hindered the board's ability to deal with the most profound crisis ever confronted by the University."

The complete ESPN Outside the Lines piece can be read here.

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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