The Lycurgus Group has just published a White Paper on the Penn State Investigations. The White Paper is available here.
The White Paper continues to look at the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. The facts and allegations, because so well reported and continuing to develop, will not be repeated here. This may be, as Boston Globe columnist and ESPN contributor Bob Ryan suggests, “the single biggest story in the history of college sports.” The Lycurgus Group joins the hopes and prayers of others that the victims in this matter can find some sense of justice.
While it is too early in the legal process to draw any definitive conclusions about where the fault should fairly lay, it is not too early for Institutions to begin to answer the question about how similar mistakes can be avoided in the future. The purpose of this White Paper is to examine the potential conflicts of interest inherent when Institution’s conduct internal investigations sensitive of high profile allegations of wrongdoing and to propose the use of external investigators as a viable solution in extraordinary situations.
In some instances, the reliance on internal staff is appropriate based on the nature of the allegations. However, two recent incidents at Penn State – allegations of wrongdoing by a climate research scientist and the sexual abuse allegations involving a former football coach who maintained ties to the Institution – illustrate that when the institution faces potentially serious allegations, the better course is not to use of internal staff, whether in the compliance office or otherwise, to conduct the investigation. The use of internal staff may create the appearance of a conflict of interest because the staff is not independent from the Institution. In addition, internal staff may not have the resources or experience necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of serious allegations.