Report: Freeh source criticizes NCAA

A source familiar with the investigation into Penn State's response to former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse scandal is speaking out against the NCAA.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a person connected to the Freeh report, which condemned Penn State's handling of Sandusky's abuse, said the NCAA should not have based its harsh sanctions against the university on the investigation.

"That document was not meant to be used as the sole piece, or the large piece, of the NCAA's decision making," the source told The Chronicle on Thursday. "It was meant to be a mechanism to help Penn State move forward. To be used otherwise creates an obstacle to the institution changing."

According to The Chronicle, members of former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigative team can't speak publicly about the report. On Friday night, a spokesperson for the group denied that any member of the team spoke to The Chronicle.

"The Freeh Group emphatically stated that no member of its investigative team spoke to The Chronicle of Higher Education for its story," the spokesperson said. "The Freeh Group has no comment on the NCAA's use of the report."

Issued earlier this month, Freeh's firm produced a 267-page report that concluded that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

Freeh called the officials' disregard for Sandusky's child victims "callous and shocking." Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys.

On Monday, the NCAA severely sanctioned Penn State for its handling of the scandal, hitting the university with a $60 million fine, a four-year football postseason ban and the vacating of all wins dating to 1998.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said the organization relied on the Freeh report when coming up with those penalties because it was "vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation we've ever conducted."

The Chronicle's source, however, said that should not have been the case.

"The Freeh team reviewed how Penn State operated, not how they worked within the NCAA's system," the source told The Chronicle. "The NCAA's job is to investigate whether Penn State broke its rules and whether it gained a competitive advantage in doing so."

The source also told The Chronicle that since the Freeh report didn't interview Paterno, Schultz or Curley, the NCAA should have furthered the investigation to see "how far this went."

"The NCAA took this report and ran with it without further exploration," the source said. "If you really wanted to show there was a nexus to cover up, interview the coaches. See their knowledge and culpability ..."

The failure to do so, according to the source, has damaged Penn State.

"The sanctions against Penn State were really overwhelming, and no one imagined the report being used to do that," the person told The Chronicle. "People thought it would help others draw conclusions about what happened and provide a guide for leaders to be able to identify minefields and navigate through them.

"Instead, Emmert took the report and used Penn State's own resources to do them in. The institution is made of people, too. And they don't deserve this."

Meanwhile, former Penn State players Franco Harris, Rudy Glocker and Christian Marrone have sent an email to other Penn State alumni saying the Freeh report "is highly flawed, and factually insufficient."

The group plans to publish the letter, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, in The Wall Street Journal and other large publications.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.