Former NCAA Chairman Ed Ray said in a deposition that he never read Louis Freeh’s report before voting in favor of the consent decree levying sanctions on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse, according to court documents released Thursday.
According to a USA Today report also released Thursday, Ray was one of few — perhaps only two — committee members to vote in favor of giving the university’s football program the death penalty in that same meeting.
Some of the depositions detailed in USA Today’s report have not been publically released.
Ray was unable to recall the committee’s exact vote on the death penalty, but, according to USA Today, he said during a deposition, “if you told me [the vote] was 19 to 2, I would believe you.”
According to the released documents, Ray traveled to Hawaii a few days after the report was released and was unaware of any preparations regarding the report, which examined the university’s handling of the Sandusky case.
Former FBI director Freeh’s report was released on July 12, 2012, and was the basis for the NCAA sanctions released on July 23, 2012.
“When I went to Hawaii, I didn’t even know we were going to be having any conversation about the Freeh Report,” Ray said, according to the documents. “So I had no sense that I needed to prep or anything.”
Former Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in his deposition that NCAA President Mark Emmert gave him the impression that, if Penn State did not accept the sanctions in the consent decree, there was a high probability the football program would be shut down entirely, according to USA Today.
In e-mail correspondence with Penn State’s vice president and general counsel Stephen Dunham, Erickson wrote Emmert “as much as intimated” that “things will be even worse if you don’t take your medicine now,” according to USA Today.
Though Ray said the committee reached no consensus on the death penalty the first time it was discussed — and voted against it “overwhelmingly” the next time — in his own depositions, Emmert maintained there was “a very strong consensus among people on the call that circumstances this egregious warranted the death penalty,” according to USA Today.
The information regarding Ray not reading Freeh’s report came out in a motion filed by members of late football coach Joe Paterno’s family to overrule the NCAA's objection to proposed subpoenas for five members of its executive committee, according to the documents.
In December, the NCAA filed an objection to the five proposed subpoenas — for William Harvey, Nathan Hatch, Harris Pastides, Stan Albrecht and Lou Anna Simon — on the basis that the information the Paterno family sought was irrelevant to its current case, according to the documents.
All five were members of the NCAA's Executive Committee when the NCAA issued the consent decree, placing sanctions on Penn State in the aftermath of the Sandusky case.
The NCAA "rushed to assume jurisdiction of criminal conduct," according to the documents, and is now seeking "to prevent discovery from its key decision-makers."
The plaintiffs — including former Penn State Board of Trustees member Al Clemens and former assistant football coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno — issued the proposal in November for information regarding the process the NCAA took in imposing the consent decree, according to the documents.
The NCAA claimed “substantial time was devoted” to the matter during Ray’s deposition, according to the documents.
The Paterno side filed the civil suit in 2013 over the consent decree’s legality.
The consent decree’s sanctions included a four-year post-season bowl ban, loss of scholarships, removal of some football wins and a $60 million fine.
In September, the bowl ban was rescinded and the full lot of scholarships will be restored for next season.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 6.
Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse and is serving a 30-to-60 year prison sentence.