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Penn State implementing former FBI chief's suggestions

| Saturday, March 17, 2012

HERSHEY -- Penn State has started implementing recommendations offered by a former FBI director leading an internal investigation into the school's handling of child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant coach, school President Rodney Erickson told university trustees meeting to discuss other changes in hopes of increasing transparency.

Erickson said at a trustees meeting on Friday in Hershey that the university is enhancing background checks for staff working with children and adding more staffers to oversee its compliance with various federal laws and NCAA rules.

The meeting began hours after Penn State's in-house lawyer said on the university website that "a number" of its employees had received subpoenas from the state attorney general's office. General counsel Cynthia Baldwin did not say how many were received, what information was sought or provide other details, and state prosecutors declined comment.

Spokesman Bill Mahon said the administration learned of the subpoenas after being informed by two employees who received the notice. Mahon said he had no additional information and referred questions to the state attorney general's office, which declined comment.

Erickson said that Penn State will immediately retrieve keys, access cards and other property from people who aren't formally associated with the university. Sandusky, charged with sexually assaulting youths on campus, had a key to the football building long after his 1999 retirement.

Ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh's investigation is focusing on whether Penn State did enough to stop Sandusky from assaulting youths. The results of Freeh's investigation are expected later this year.

Erickson also said the university is implementing Freeh's preliminary recommendations.

Erickson said a website that Penn State recently introduced to foster greater transparency has garnered nearly 10,000 visitors and "seems to be facilitating a greater flow of information to our constituents."

Chair Karen Peetz has said adding an outreach committee and giving faculty, alumni and students more advisory roles are among changes up for trustee discussion.

Some ex-football players and vocal alumni disapprove of trustees' actions in the aftermath of the charges against Sandusky, including the ouster of the late Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno.

Despite the anger expressed by alumni and others, the meeting progressed uneventfully.

The only outward sign of discontent was a message -- "RESIGN" -- spelled out on the T-shirts of several members of the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.

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