- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The man brought in to monitor Penn State’s athletics program said Monday his role will soon end because he believes the university has made sufficient progress after a child sex-abuse scandal highlighted shortcomings in its operations.

Athletics integrity monitor Charles Scheeler said the agreement involving Penn State, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA will conclude at the end of December instead of in 2017.

Scheeler said Penn State has implemented reforms that exceed terms of the 2012 agreement, made after former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, including encounters that occurred inside university athletics facilities.

“Penn State has established state-of-the-art university policies and practices which leave it well prepared to address the challenges all major universities face in today’s dynamic and highly regulated environment,” Scheeler said.

Penn State President Eric Barron called the decision an endorsement of the school’s actions.

“To tell you the truth, we’re not changing anything,” Barron said. “We know that what we’re doing is extremely successful and we’re going to continue.”

A year ago, Scheeler’s predecessor as monitor, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, cited Penn State’s progress in announcing that the university could resume post-season play and was getting back its full complement of football scholarships.

Over the past three years, Penn State has bolstered its compliance and ethics efforts, revised policies that pertain to reporting and oversight, and put in place new procedures for children on campus, security at its facilities, reports of wrongdoing and employee background checks.

The monitor’s report also noted Penn State has made structural and personnel changes in its governance and administration and trained staff in reporting allegations of crime.

“What we’ve set up is designed to help us be successful,” Barron said. “What we’re doing is being replicated by other institutions.”

Scheeler said his oversight will end unless some “material adverse events” occur before the end of the year.

His report described “evidence of increased tension and a mutual lack of trust” between head football coach James Franklin and the school’s athletics compliance staff.

“All parties acknowledge the problem,” Scheeler wrote. “Equally important, all parties have expressed a commitment to improving the communications and relationships between one another.”

Sandusky is appealing his conviction while serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence, with a hearing scheduled for late next month before a judge in county court near State College.

Three former top-ranking university administrators are accused of a criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky, allegations they dispute. A trial date has not been set for the three, former President Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley.

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