New Freeh report leak focuses on 2007 Meridian fight response

The Meridian fight surfaces now, in a Chronicle of Higher Education story detailing additional leaks from the Freeh investigation.

For background, this was precisely when I stopped drinking the Paterno Kool-Aid. A bunch of players, responding to an earlier incident on the street, stormed into an apartment party and beat up some people who had nothing to do with the incident on the street (apparently). It was thuggish behavior of the sort we would have vilified had it happened at the U; and Paterno's lack of serious response to the incident was, at the time, viewed by more than just me as somewhat out of character.

The interesting new detail here is that it was more than just Triponey involved, who is a flawed witness to say the least.

One such incident happened in 2007, when six football players were charged with forcing their way into an off-campus apartment and beating up several fellow students. After the university received a police search warrant requesting any documents related to the case, Mr. Courtney removed four letters and memos from a file, claiming the information violated the players' rights to privacy.

In one letter, Philip J. Burlingame, the associate vice president for student affairs, had written to Shirley M. Kitchen, a state senator apparently concerned about the university's response to the incident. Mr. Burlingame wrote that the university viewed the alleged assault "as a very serious criminal incident," saying "we fully intend to do all we can to identify and properly adjudicate all Penn State students who were involved as perpetrators of these crimes." The letter did not name any of the players charged in the attacks or any of the students involved; it did, however, name one of their parents.

In another letter related to the case, Joe Puzycki, Penn State's assistant vice president for student affairs, described how Coach Paterno had a text message sent out to every football player, saying that if any of them went into the student-affairs office to respond to the university's code of conduct complaint in the matter, they would be "thrown off the team." After Mr. Puzycki asked for a copy of that text message, a student said he could not provide it. According to the student, Coach Paterno reportedly said, "if you had a problem with that, you could call him directly."

Mr. Spanier also became involved in the university’s disciplinary process in that case, helping schedule player interviews and organizing a meeting at his home with Mr. Paterno, Mr. Curley, Mr. Courtney, and the then-vice president of student affairs, Vicky Triponey. In a letter that Ms. Triponey wrote to Mr. Spanier ahead of that meeting, she expressed concerns that she was beingpressured to alter discipline decisions involving football players.

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