Board approves athletics code of conduct

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees today (Nov. 16) approved a code of conduct for intercollegiate athletics, as required by the Athletics Integrity Agreement entered into by the University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA and accepted by the University. The code brings together policies and procedures that already in place at the University.

The code of conduct applies to all coaches, managers and student-athletes of NCAA-sanctioned Division I intercollegiate athletics teams; University employees directly involved with intercollegiate athletics teams; the University Board of Trustees; the President of the University; and all members of the athletic director’s executive committee.

The purpose of the code “is to serve as a guidepost to direct the ethical bearing of the athletics department.” It was drafted to reflect the athletics department’s mission, vision and core values of integrity, respect and honor, as well as the Penn State Principles, a document shared with the entire University community that spells out the values that Penn State embraces.

All covered individuals under the code must comply with University policies and procedures; the Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Manual; applicable NCAA constitution and bylaws and Big Ten Handbook; and all applicable laws, rules and regulations. Additionally, all those covered by the code must report through designated methods suspected violations of policies and rules.

In addition, the code of conduct requires student-athletes to adhere to the University’s Student Code of Conduct and team rules established by the head coach.

The code states that coaches and managers will not have any hiring or supervisory role with regard to academic support staff, nor apply pressure to faculty or any member of the academic support staff on behalf of a student-athlete. They also may not play a role in hiring or supervising, or apply pressure to, compliance staff. While coaches may recommend qualified student-athletes for admission, they may not attempt to pressure admissions staff to admit an applicant.

Coaches and athletics department administrators and staff must “give full and active support to the educational aims of the University, cooperate fully in support of the faculty on eligibility requirements and insist that all student-athletes fulfill the same academic requirements as all other students at the University,” according to the code of conduct.

Individually and collectively, the Board of Trustees, according to the code, also must adhere to the board’s charter, bylaws and standing orders. Board members shall also “fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to oversee the implementation of the Athletics Department’s policies and procedures, and to uphold the integrity of the intercollegiate athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of Penn State.”

The code of conduct additionally provides that the president of the University must adhere to NCAA Bylaws, Article 22.2.1.1(b), which states that the University president “is assigned ultimate responsibility and authority for the operation, fiscal integrity and personnel of the athletics program.”

The president also will communicate to the Board of Trustees regarding the integrity of the athletics program, the ethical conduct of individuals covered by the code of conduct and the president’s fulfillment of related responsibilities. With input from faculty, the president must uphold academic and eligibility standards reflecting Penn State’s high academic values and vision.

The code of conduct includes the strict non-retaliation and non-retribution policy of the University and the athletics department for anyone who takes action he or she believes necessary to uphold or enforce compliance with the code of conduct and applicable rules, regulations, laws and principles.

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