Documents Suggest NCAA Heavily Involved in Freeh Investigation
November 12, 2014 11:40 AM
by Michael Martin Garrett
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Editor's note: This story was updated to include remarks the NCAA made to ESPN.

State Senator Jake Corman and the National Collegiate Athletic Association continue to fight over what information is fair game as their legal battle continues to heat up.

In the latest dust up, Corman's attorneys and the NCAA are duking it out over the NCAA's role in the Freeh investigation. In a motion filed Tuesday, Corman suggests the NCAA was heavily involved in the Freeh investigation that Penn State requested following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

The NCAA claimed in a court filing on Monday that the Freeh investigation was "completely and entirely independent from the NCAA." Corman's attorneys fired back on Tuesday, filing a response with over 100 pages of emails between the NCAA and the Freeh group.

"The NCAA's involvement with the Freeh Group was regular and substantive, and began nearly from the outset of the Freeh Group's retention by Penn State," the filing reads. "In fact, as early as November 30, 2011, the NCAA reached out to ... the Freeh Group to arrange a direct telephone call between [NCAA] President Mark Emmert and Judge Freeh."

Corman suggests the entanglement of the two organizations only grew from there.

The emails show that in December 2011, NCAA Chief Legal Counsel Donald Remy and other NCAA officials met with Freeh and representatives from the Big Ten for three hours on the Penn State campus. Days later, Remy asked the Freeh Group to edit a letter the NCAA was planning to send to Penn State.

The emails attached to Corman's filing detail frequent contact between the two organizations and questions from the NCAA into the content and progress of the Freeh investigation. One email from December 2011 shows the NCAA making extensive inquires of the Freeh group's conclusions on Penn State, asking the Freeh group to describe the university culture in terms of ethical failings and to illustrate how the university failed to properly handle the Sandusky scandal. The two organizations also hosted routine conference calls during the course of the investigation, the emails show.

"Clearly, Freeh went way past his mandate. He was the enforcement person for the NCAA," Corman said in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday. "... At a minimum, it is inappropriate. At a maximum, these were two parties working together to get an outcome that was predetermined."

Penn State issued a statement on the filing, saying it is public knowledge that the NCAA and Big Ten monitored the progress of the Freeh investigation.

"While the NCAA may have made suggestions to the Freeh Group with respect to its investigation, the scope of the Freeh investigation was established by the Penn State Board of Trustees, as set forth in the Freeh engagement letter, not by the NCAA," the statement reads. "The University’s preliminary review of the NCAA’s proposed questions suggests that there are many proposed questions that are not addressed in the final July 12, 2012 report."

Remy told ESPN that Corman's claims are a "mischaracterization of the evidence" and "are inconsistent with the facts."

"I think the communications between the Freeh group and the NCAA were consistent with the NCAA's commitment to cooperate with the Freeh group and our commitment to monitor the progress of that investigation," Remy told ESPN. "In no way do those documents demonstrate the NCAA was doing anything beyond that." 

The emails were released about a week after the release of internal NCAA emails from 2012 describing the threat of sanctions against Penn State as "a bluff." Those emails also revealed the NCAA questioned its authority and jurisdiction to impose its sanctions, including a $60 million fine.

Though the NCAA called those emails "selectively released," they inspired outrage among many in the university community. Former Penn State trustee Joel Meyers issued a statement on Tuesday, condemning the NCAA, threatening legal action and asking the Penn State Board of Trustees to demand an investigation into the athletic organization.

"I'm angry ... it looks like the NCAA was looking to improve its own image at the expense of Penn State. And to do that, they were orchestrating an outcome with Freeh to make it happen," Corman told ESPN.

Corman and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord sued the NCAA in commonwealth court last year in an attempt to force the NCAA to spend its $60 million against Penn State in Pennsylvania. The NCAA wants to distribute the funds nationally, and has filed a separate lawsuit in federal court towards that end. 

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