Penn State hired an athletics integrity officer but isn't ready to publicly announce the identity of the new hire, Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Dunham said.
The new athletics integrity officer hasn't been vetted through the right processes, but he or she is a "very strong, ethical person in a very important position that will benefit the university,” Dunham said at the Board of Trustees' Committee on Legal and Compliance meeting today.
The Athletics Integrity Agreement, required as under the consent decree Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed with the NCAA, called for the hiring of an athletics integrity officer, Dunham said.
The committee also discussed the General Counsel's reporting responsibilities and relationship to the board. The General Counsel has an obligation to represent and report to the entity, which is the Board of Trustees as the highest authority of Penn State, Dunham said.
Trustee Stephanie Deviney, who is running for the board's vice chair position, suggested the board should clarify in its charter the specific issues that should be brought to the committee for discussion. The current definition of issues management needs to bring to the board is vague, Dunham said, but he is working on creating a more comprehensive list.
The general counsel's office is also developing a policy that emphasizes the independence of police investigations from interference by university management, Dunham said.
In accordance with the Freeh report recommendations, the university has hired or is in the process of hiring a new general counsel, an additional health care lawyer at Hershey, an employment lawyer and a research lawyer, Dunham said.
Dunham said with the president's approval, the university will also be hiring more in-house attorneys over the course of the year. The University Park campus should probably have eight to 10 - but it currently has only three, he said. The process of growing an in-house office - which began prior to last November - is "still very much in its infancy," Dunham said.
Dunham said outside lawyers aren't appropriate for internal policy development.
Erickson and Deviney praised Dunham and the university staff, respectively, for their hard work and additional responsibilities the board gave them during the last couple of months.