HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — The former U.S. senator brought into monitor athletics at Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal said Friday the school's football players are getting about the same medical care as other major programs.
Athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell looked into the subject of football sports medicine after a critical article in Sports Illustrated in May about the replacement of longtime team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli and the role of athletic trainers.
The fifth quarterly report from Mitchell also concluded the university continues to make progress in meeting the terms of an agreement reached in August 2012 with the NCAA and Big Ten Conference.
Mitchell said he found no reason to think changing the doctors who see players violated NCAA, Big Ten Conference or Penn State rules. Sebastianelli remains the school's director of athletic medicine.
"More importantly, the quality of healthcare afforded the football student-athlete is consistent with the standard of care provided by comparable intercollegiate football programs," Mitchell said.
Penn State may be able to improve its wider sports medicine services for other teams, Mitchell said, noting that trainers do not have access to electronic medical records of their players. He said lawyers are working on the topic, which raises privacy issues, and he plans to monitor the issue.
Mitchell said Penn State in the past three months has hired an ethics specialist, surveyed people about the school's core values, worked on the safety of children who participate in campus programs, hosted a conference on child mistreatment and generally cooperated with his efforts.
At Mitchell's recommendation, the NCAA in September announced Penn State will more quickly get back football scholarships suspended as a result of the Sandusky scandal.
Sandusky, retired after serving for decades as the team's defensive coordinator, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after being convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The state Supreme Court is considering whether to hear his appeal, which was turned down by the lower Superior Court.