When the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, officials said they acted after reviewing the findings of the university-sponsored Freeh Report into the matter.
But in a Dec. 8 court deposition, former NCAA executive committee chairman Ed Ray admitted he did not read the Freeh Report before the consent decree sanctioning Penn State was agreed upon.
The Freeh Report was issued July 12, 2012. The sanctions against Penn State were announced 11 days later. Then the chair of the executive committee, Ray praised the Freeh Report as being so extensive and exhaustive that the NCAA did not have to conduct its own investigation.
Yet while being deposed by Joe Paterno estate lawyer Wick Sollers in December, Ray was asked if he read the Freeh Report at or about the time it came out.
Actually, it was -- I think I did not go through the detailed report until after the agreement was reached, Ray responded, according to court documents.
Ray added that he went on a trip to Hawaii shortly after the Freeh Report was released.
I may have looked at the executive summary when it came out, and certainly read press accounts, he said in the deposition, but I don't believe I read or was able to download and get a copy of the full report until after I got back, which would have been around the time of the press conference [announcing the consent decree], or sometime shortly thereafter.
Ray also said the consent decree was actually approved July 21 via phone, so I didn't have a lot of time to prep for anything.
Ray's deposition came about as part of the Paterno estate's suit seeking to overturn all NCAA sanctions against Penn State, and State Sen. Jake Corman's suit seeking to keep all fine money for use in Pennsylvania.
The specific comments from the deposition came to light in a motion by the Paterno estate demanding that five other current or former NCAA officials be deposed, something the NCAA is fighting..
At the time of the sanctions, Ray, who is also the president at Oregon State, said, As a result of information produced from the Sandusky criminal investigation and the Freeh Report, which Penn State commissioned and also agreed to its findings, it became obvious that the leadership failures at Penn State over an extended period of time directly violated Association bylaws and the NCAA Constitution relating to control over the athletic department, integrity and ethical conduct.
Most of the sanctions against Penn State stemming from the consent decree have since been dropped. Still at issue are the 111 wins that were stripped from former coach Joe Paterno's record.
The Paterno estate and Corman cases are also calling into question whether the NCAA had the right to threaten PSU with the so-called death penalty and subsequently force it into accepting the consent decree over a matter that many believe falls outside the NCAA's purview.