TIME College football

Penn State President: Freeh Acted Like Prosecutor in Review

Penn State President Eric Barron
Penn State President Eric Barron Nabil K. Mark—MCT/ Getty Images

Penn State president not a fan of the report of how administrators handled child-molestation complaints regarding former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky

(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — Penn State’s president on Wednesday dismissed the university-commissioned review of how top administrators handled child molestation complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as “not useful to make decisions.”

Eric Barron told The Associated Press that the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh took a prosecutorial approach and created an “absurd” and “unwarranted” picture of students, faculty and others associated with the university.

“I have to say, I’m not a fan of the report,” Barron said during a half-hour interview in his office in Old Main, the school’s administrative headquarters. “There’s no doubt in my mind, Freeh steered everything as if he were a prosecutor trying to convince a court to take the case.”

The Freeh report concluded that former administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and former football coach Joe Paterno intentionally concealed key facts about Sandusky’s child sex abuse to avoid bad publicity after receiving complaints in 1998 and 2001. It also recommended more than 100 changes to school policies and procedures and said Penn State was permeated by a culture of reverence for the football program.

The Freeh team’s report, he said, “very clearly paints a picture about every student, every faculty member, every staff member and every alum. And it’s absurd. It’s unwarranted. So from my viewpoint, the Freeh report is not useful to make decisions.”

Weeks after the Freeh report was issued in 2012, Penn State and the NCAA entered into a consent decree that imposed a four-year ban on postseason play, temporarily cut scholarships, required a $60 million fine and invalidated 112 football team wins from Paterno’s later years. Although the legality of that deal has been questioned, Barron said he has no doubt that his predecessor, Rodney Erickson, had the authority to do it.

The NCAA last year restored the bowl rights and scholarships, and agreed two weeks ago to restore the wins.

“I think it adds more clarity and it reflects circumstances better,” Barron said. The recent decision amounted to “removal of penalties that, in my mind, don’t quite match NCAA obligations, and so I think the consent decree dissolution is a very positive thing for the university.”

Despite Barron’s criticisms of the NCAA’s process, his office stressed that the school was still committed to procedural changes and its commitment to funding child abuse prevention efforts.

He said the NCAA’s main role should be making sure teams don’t get an unwarranted advantage on the playing field, and he argued any Sandusky cover-up did not result in the type of advantage teams get from illegal recruiting. The matter should have gone through the NCAA’s infractions committee, he said.

“I think it’s increasingly clear that none of the things that transpired had any impact on the field,” Barron said. “And therefore I think almost universally, people say, well, those teams win those games. I think it’s equally clear that in almost every instance we pay a penalty if we don’t follow a process. And the NCAA stepped out of their process.”

Barron said he has not finished a formal review of the Freeh report that he is conducting for university trustees.

Sandusky, a retired assistant coach, was accused of sexually abusing boys, some of them on campus. He is serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, though he has consistently maintained his innocence.

The case of Spanier, Schultz and Curley for an alleged criminal cover-up is pending before a county judge in Harrisburg, 90 miles from the Penn State campus. Barron said that proceeding may bring to light new facts.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of shoes that have to drop. You could argue that public opinion has found us guilty before the criminal trials,” Barron said. “There’s no doubt in my mind what was completely and totally wrong was the notion that this entire alumni base, our students, our faculty, our staff, got the blame for what occurred.”

Student applications to Penn State have continued to rise, external funding of research is strong and donations have poured in, but the impact of the Sandusky scandal remains acute, Barron said.

“The price that’s being paid is the fact that it’s really torn our alumni base apart,” he said. “They’re constantly reading about it, they’re constantly talking about who is standing up for the university, how they’re standing up for the university, who did something wrong.”

Barron said conflict among the trustees that pits those elected by alumni against the others comes down to different ideas about “a path forward.”

“Of course I’m concerned about antagonism,” he said. “And I’m concerned particularly because if you go to the foundations of all those individuals, they all love Penn State, they’re all giving an enormous amount of time to Penn State, and for no other reason than they believe in the institution.”

Penn State is developing a proposal to the Big Ten Conference to revise an athletics integrity agreement that currently applies to the university. Barron said a discussion about returning Penn State’s share of the conference’s bowl revenues from recent years “will be a face-to-face discussion.”

TIME College football

Jameis Winston’s Accuser Discusses Sexual Assault Allegations in Sundance Documentary

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State
Quarterback Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles reacts after losing 59-20 to the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in California. Jeff Gross—Getty Images

Her first public remarks since the incident

The woman who accused former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault in December 2012 discusses her allegations in The Hunting Ground, a documentary that premiered on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

The accuser’s appearance in the documentary, which examines sexual assault cases on college campuses, marks her first public comments since the alleged rape. The film is directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (The Invisible War) and will air on CNN later this year. It will also be released theatrically by Radius.

Winston was accused of sexual assault in December 2012. No charges were filed, but in November 2013, the state’s attorney announced it was opening an investigation into the woman’s accusation. The investigation was completed a month later without any charges being filed.

Winston also faced a Student Code of Conduct case at Florida State in December to determine if he violated student conduct codes. He was cleared by an arbitrator after a two-day hearing in which he read a five-page statement denying the allegations. The statement was the first time Winston publicly presented his side of the story.

Earlier this month, the accuser filed a federal lawsuit against Florida State university trustees alleging that FSU did not properly investigate her allegation and intentionally did not follow its own Title IX policies, therefore violating her Title IX rights. The university responded by calling the allegations “meritless” in a statement.

The lawsuit cited a Fox Sports report published in October that alleged the FSU administration and Tallahassee police took steps to “hide and then hinder” the investigation.

Winston announced earlier this month that he will not return to Florida State next season in order to enter the NFL draft.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College football

NCAA to Restore Joe Paterno’s Vacated Penn State Football Wins

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno acknowledges the crowd before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in State College, Pa. on Nov. 5, 2005.
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno acknowledges the crowd before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in State College, Pa. on Nov. 5, 2005. Carolyn Kaster—AP

Following the sex abuse scandal, Penn State was forced to vacate 112 victories from 1998 through 2011

The NCAA will restore all of Joe Paterno’s vacated wins at Penn State, the organization announced on Friday. ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. first reported the news.

The restoration is part of a proposed settlement in Pa. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s lawsuit against the NCAA.

The settlement, which is subject to board approval from Penn State and the NCAA, will replace the July 2012 consent decree between the school and the NCAA, which sanctioned Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The school was forced to vacate 112 victories from 1998 through 2011, all but one of which came under Paterno, as part of the sanctions following the release of the Freeh Report in 2012. The NCAA penalized the school for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, in which the longtime Penn State assistant football coach was convicted on 45 counts of sex abuse earlier that year.​

The punishment had dropped Paterno’s career win total from 409 — the most in Division I college football history — to 298. Paterno died in January 2012 at the age of 85.

The NCAA also gave Penn State a four-year postseason ban, restricted the team to 65 scholarships per year through 2017 and fined the team $60 million, among other sanctions. Under the new settlement, the university has agreed to commit a total of $60 million to activities and programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse and the treatment of victims of child sexual abuse.

Penn State and the NCAA will also “enter into a new Athletics Integrity Agreement that (with concurrence of the Big Ten) includes best practices with which the university is committed to comply” as part of the settlement.

In early September, the NCAA Executive Committee restored Penn State’s postseason eligibility and its full allotment of scholarships.

Sandusky is currently serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after he was convicted in 2012.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College football

Cardale Jones’ Teammates Joke About His Decision to Stay at Ohio State

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State
Quarterback Cardale Jones #12 of the Ohio State Buckeyes talks to the media after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42 to 20. Sarah Glenn—Getty Images

The Ohio State players gave their hero quarterback lots of grief

Cardale Jones became an improbable hero on Monday when the third-string quarterback led Ohio State to a national championship over Oregon. Though Jones went from mostly unknown to NFL contender in a few short months, he surprised many Thursday by opting not to enter the NFL draft and spend another year in Ohio.

But Jones’ teammates wouldn’t let him get away with his announcement without poking some fun at the new star. The redshirt sophomore scheduled a news conference at his Cleveland high school at 4 p.m. to explain why he was staying put. Before, during and after the conference, his teammates gleefully tweeted about Jones’ miniature version of LeBron’s “The Decision.” Jones’ roommate and teammate Tyvis Powell kicked off the Twitter frenzy:

Then came the inevitable LeBron comparisons:

As Jones walked up to the podium to make his announcement at 4:15 p.m., Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” began playing in the gymnasium.

During the conference, Jones said he plans to study financial planning and pursue that career when he’s done playing football, prompting this two-part tweet from his roommate:

With teammates like these, it’s no wonder Jones didn’t want to leave college early.

TIME College football

Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota Will Enter NFL Draft

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State
Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks on during the national anthem before the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

Mariota won this season's Heisman Trophy, after throwing 38 touchdowns and two interceptions in the regular season

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota announced Wednesday that he is entering the NFL draft.

In his latest mock draft, SI.com’s Chris Burke projects Mariota as the No. 1 pick.

“After meeting with my family I have decided to forego my final year of eligibility and apply for the 2015 NFL Draft,” Mariota said in a statement. “My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience. I cannot thank Coach Kelly, Coach Helfrich, Coach Frost, the rest of the Oregon coaches and the support staff enough for molding me as a person, player and student-athlete.”

Mariota won this season’s Heisman Trophy, after throwing 38 touchdowns and two interceptions in the regular season. In the College Football Playoff, Mariota threw four touchdowns and two interceptions in two games. He led Oregon to the national championship game, where the Ducks fell to Ohio State.

Mariota was 11th in the nation this season with 296.9 passing yards per game and second nationally with 42 touchdown passes. In his three-year collegiate career, Mariota threw 105 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars hold the top three picks in the draft.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College football

Let College Football Playoff Star Ezekiel Elliott Go Pro

College Football Playoff National Championship - Media Day
Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the Ohio State Buckeyes talks with media during Media Day for the College Football Playoff National Championship at Dallas Convention Center on January 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

He raised his stock to an all time high against Oregon. But the rules don't let him cash in on NFL riches

Odds are, the college career of star Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will never get better. Elliott just turned in one of the all-time great performances in title game history, in any sport, college or pro: against Oregon in Monday night’s inaugural College Football Playoff national championship, a 42-20 Buckeyes victory, Elliott ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged an absurd 6.8 yards per carry, and ran for 14 first downs. Elliott’s stat line over his last three games reads like a video game tally: 696 yards, eight touchdowns. In the national semifinals, against Alabama, the 6’0″, 225-pound sophomore ran for 230 yards. He was the first 100-yard rusher Alabama had allowed all season.

College football, as an industry, has never had it better. The College Football Playoff is a windfall for the major conferences: ESPN is paying $7.3 billion over 12 years to broadcast the event. This season, each of the big-five conferences — the ACC, the Big 12, the Big 10, the Pac-12 and the SEC — will receive around $50 million each, almost double what they took home under the old BCS system. The Ohio State-Oregon national title game drew a 18.2 rating and averaged 33.4 million viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched event in cable television history. In fact, two semi-final games on New Years Day, plus the title game, account for the three most-watched cable programs ever. Thanks to the hype and momentum of the playoff, the national championship game’s ratings rose 26% compared to last year’s BCS title game between Florida State and Auburn. Total viewership spiked 31%.

Times are nice. But Elliott, the offensive MVP of the title game, gets hit with a double whammy. First, none of this money from the college football playoff flows into the pocket of the best player in the college football playoff. Second, if Elliott wanted to cash in while his stock is at that all-time high — by turning pro — he can’t.

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Since Elliott is a sophomore, he’s ineligible for the NFL draft; only players three years removed from high school can be drafted (Elliott’s teammate, former third-string quarterback turned Buckeye State idol Cardale Jones, is a redshirt sophomore, having sat out his first year on campus, so Jones could go pro if he wants to). Basketball players can leave after their freshman year, so if Elliott played hoops, he could start making plans. But since he plays football, he has no choice but to return to campus, and risk injury in a much more violent sport.

“He has to go through another year in a very tough conference, as the national champion, so teams will be even more hyped up to go against him,” says Alan Milstein, an attorney who represented former Ohio St. running back Maurice Clarett’s ultimately unsuccessful legal attempt to overturn the NFL rule. “Hopefully, he’ll suffer no serious injury. But the reality is, his career could be over at any moment. The NFL isn’t taking the risk. Ohio State isn’t taking the risk. He’s taking all the risk.”

The risk is real. For example, after a huge freshman season in 2010, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, a first-round NFL prospect, suffered season season-ending knee injuries in both his sophomore and junior years. He retired this past November, without having appeared in an NFL game. Elliott might sincerely want to return to school. He can take another year of classes, and chase a repeat championship in front of adoring crowds, on an adoring campus. A possible Heisman trophy win is tempting. But it’s blatantly unfair for Elliott, or any other player in his position, to have no option to go to the NFL. (A request to speak to Elliott, through an Ohio State spokesperson, was not returned).

MORE See the 10 Best Photos From the Ohio State vs. Oregon Championship Game

Back in 2004, Milstein argued that the three-year restriction was illegal. He still feels that way.

“The only reason a team wouldn’t draft Elliott is because they’ve all said we won’t draft him if you won’t draft him,” says Milstein. “That’s the essence of an anti-trust conspiracy.”

A federal district court agreed with him, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York, overturned that judgment, ruling that since the draft rule is a product of collective bargaining, it’s shielded from anti-trust scrutiny under federal labor laws. “That’s what unions do every day — protect people in the union from those not in the union,” appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor said during the arguments. “Why is this case different?”

Sotomayor wrote the opinion. “She killed me, absolutely killed me,” Milstein remembers. So much so, Milstein says, that when Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009, Republicans called him up to see if he would speak out against her. Milstein, a Barack Obama supporter, refused.

The Supreme Court declined to hear Milstein’s appeal in the Clarett case. Milstein, however, sees a legal opening in another appeals court jurisdiction, most notably the Sixth Circuit (which covers Ohio) or the Eighth Circuit, located in St. Louis. Both these jurisdictions have adopted the “Mackey test” — named after former Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey, who challenged the NFL in another case — which holds that labor restraints are only exempt from anti-trust scrutiny if they primarily affect the parties subject to collective bargaining, concern a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, i.e. (wages, hours, conditions of employment), and are subject to “bona fide arm’s-length bargaining.”

Since the draft rule is part of the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, it meets this third prong of Mackey. But Milstein argues (and the federal district court agreed) that since college players are prospective employees, and thus not “parties subject to collective bargaining,” — and that the three-year rule doesn’t concern wages, hours, or conditions of employment — it fails the first two prongs. It thus isn’t subject to anti-trust exemption.

Minus a legal challenge, Elliott has another option: sit out next year to limit injury risk, but stay in shape and apply for the 2016 draft. Neither of those choices, really, are all that attractive. So Elliott will almost surely return to Ohio State for another season. Fingers crossed for the MVP.

Read next: Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota Will Enter NFL Draft

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TIME College football

Ohio Furniture Chain Loses $1.5 Million in Ohio State Game-Related Promotion

Quarterback Cardale Jones #12 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after defeating the Oregon Ducks 42 to 20 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

Ashley Furniture promised to write off expensive purchases if the Buckeyes beat the Ducks

Did you bet on the Ohio State-Oregon game? Did you lose? Cheer up: We wager your loss wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Ashley Furniture’s.

The Ohio chain made a perhaps-ill-advised promise to write off purchases of $1,999 or more from Dec. 17-30 if the Buckeyes beat Alabama and then went on to win the national championship by at least seven points.

Admittedly, it was a long shot: Alabama was the No. 1 seed, and even fewer people predicted the Buckeyes overrunning Oregon 42-20 on Monday.

The promotion was in place at stores in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Florence, Kentucky. Over 500 people made purchases that totaled $1.5 million, according to parent company Morris Home Furnishings’ vice president of marketing, Rob Klaben.

“We did work with a third-party company that underwrote the promotion. So we’re excited to see a win,” Klaben told ABC News.

But he added – in the first great understatement of 2015 – “It’s not inexpensive to have this kind of promotion.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Football

See the 10 Best Photos From the Ohio State vs. Oregon Championship Game

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42-20 in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game in Arlington, Texas

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TIME College football

Police Use Tear Gas on Rowdy Ohio State Fans

Police officers try to disperse the crowd of Ohio State fans trying to block High Street in Columbus, Ohio, as they celebrate the Buckeye's 42-20 win over Oregon following the National Championship football game between Ohio State and Oregon, Jan. 12, 2015.
Police officers try to disperse the crowd of Ohio State fans trying to block High Street in Columbus, Ohio, as they celebrate the Buckeye's 42-20 win over Oregon following the National Championship football game between Ohio State and Oregon, Jan. 12, 2015. Paul Vernon—AP

At least a dozen fires started after team's national title win

Police in riot gear used tear gas to break up crowds of revelers in Columbus early Tuesday after Ohio State’s national title win over the Oregon Ducks.

At least a dozen small fires were reported after thousands poured out of bars to celebrate the Buckeyes’ victory, authorities said.

Columbus Police Department spokeswoman Denise Alex-Bouzounis told NBC News that about 8,000 students forced their way into The Horseshoe stadium and tore down a goal post.

She described the crowds as being “intense” after the game. Three canisters of tear gas were used in front of the Ohio Union at around 1:15 a.m. …

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