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George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senator who in 2007 concluded a 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball, has been appointed as the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor at Pennsylvania State University.
Mitchell, 78, was selected by college sports’ governing body -- the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- and his five-year position begins immediately.
Mitchell’s role will be to evaluate Penn State’s compliance with the NCAA sanctions handed down last month for the school’s role in the child-sex abuse case involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. He’ll also make sure the school adheres to the athletic integrity agreement it will sign later this month with the NCAA and Big Ten Conference.
“Senator Mitchell has impeccable credentials as a fair and experienced arbitrator nationally and globally,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “He will bring the benefit of his vast experience and knowledge to the execution of the agreement.”
Mitchell will prepare quarterly progress reports for the NCAA, the Big Ten and Penn State’s board of trustees. He’ll have “broad access” to the school’s campus, personnel and records, and can make any recommendations he deems necessary for the university to adhere to NCAA and conference rules and principles, the NCAA said in a statement.
The NCAA on July 23 hit Penn State with a $60 million fine, took away 20 scholarships annually for four years and issued a postseason ban that matches the longest in college football history after determining school officials, including former coach Joe Paterno, tried to cover up child abuse by Sandusky.
Mitchell said he’s mindful that the Penn State abuse scandal “deeply affected many lives” and will seek to ensure the school moves “promptly and decisively to achieve the very high level of trust and integrity needed to fulfill its important mission to those it serves.”
Mitchell, a Democrat, represented his home state of Maine for 15 years in the U.S. Senate, including as Senate majority leader, and later served as a special adviser to President Bill Clinton on Ireland. From 1996 to 2000, he was the independent chairman for the Northern Ireland Peace Talks, and in 2000 and 2001, Mitchell was chairman of an international fact-finding committee on violence in the Middle East.
A former basketball player at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Mitchell in 2006 and 2007 led the investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. More recently, he was a U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from 2009 to 2011.
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