Penn State said Tuesday that it plans to respond quickly to the NCAA’s demand for information concerning the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The university says it will respond to the NCAA “within days” as the organization decides whether or not to levy penalties against the school.
The NCAA is in the process of deciding whether Penn State had a lack of institutional control over its athletic program and/or violated ethics rules. The organization’s investigation was on hold while former FBI Director Louis Freeh conducted his own probe into the situation at the request of the school’s board of trustees.
Freeh’s findings were released last week and they were nothing short of scathing. The 267-page report essentially concluded that now-deceased head coach Joe Paterno and the university’s other top officials did all they could to bury allegations against Sandusky to protect the school’s image.
Penn State’s officials had several opportunities over the years to expose Sandusky and report him to authorities, but according to emails uncovered by Freeh, decided to hold off on doing so because the fallout would have been terrible for the university.
Now the NCAA must determine whether or not it has jurisdiction in this matter. NCAA president Mark Emmert told PBS on Monday that he “doesn’t want to take anything off the table” in the Penn State case. That means the organization could impose the death penalty on the school’s football program.
Emmert claimed that he has “never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university.”
Frankly, I don’t think the death penalty will happen. Whether or not it is the right thing to do morally, I’m not sure the NCAA could justify shutting down a school’s football program (or sanctioning its athletic department) because of a criminal investigation. Traditionally the organization has only gotten involved when a competitive advantage was gained in a situation.
Whatever happens it’s fair to say no one will ever look at Joe Paterno or Penn State the same way ever again.