INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA announced Sunday that it will levy "corrective and punitive measures" against Penn State in the wake of the child sex-abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and a scathing report that found school leaders covered up allegations against the now-convicted former assistant football coach.
The NCAA released no details, saying they would be disclosed on Monday morning by NCAA President Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State's president.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 45 criminal counts for abusing 10 boys over a number of years. A report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that the late coach Joe Paterno and three former administrators — President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz — "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse."
Emmert as recently as last week would not rule out the possibility of shutting down the Penn State football program in the wake of the scandal, adding that he had "never seen anything as egregious."
The last time the NCAA shut down a football program with the so-called "death penalty" was in the 1980s, when SMU was forced to drop the sport because of extra benefits violations. After the NCAA suspended the SMU program for a year, the school decided not to play in 1988, either, as it tried to regroup.
Current NCAA rules limit the penalty to colleges already on probation that commit another major violation. But NCAA leaders have indicated in recent months they are willing to use harsher penalties for the worst offenses. That includes postseason and TV bans, which haven't been used extensively since the 1980s.
"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like (what) happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with. This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal," Emmert told PBS. "Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."
Emmert told Penn State (http://www.psu.edu/ur/2011/NCAA.pdf) in November that the organization would be examining the "exercise of institutional control" within the athletic department, and said it was clear that "deceitful and dishonest behavior" could be considered a violation of ethics rules. So, too, could a failure to exhibit moral values
Ohio State is banned from playing in a bowl game this season as a result of the "failure to monitor" charge that followed coach Jim Tressel's admission that he knew several of his star players were trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos in violation of NCAA rules and did not report it. The Buckeyes also vacated the 2010 season and were hit with NCAA probation and a loss of scholarships. Southern California was banned from the postseason for two years and stripped of 30 scholarships following the Reggie Bush scandal.
Still pending before the NCAA is the Miami case involving booster Nevin Shapiro.
Bob Williams, the NCAA's vice president of communications, said after the Freeh report was released that Penn State needed to answer "four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies."
Likely of particular interest to the NCAA were the report's conclusions that the school had "decentralized and uneven" oversight of compliance issues — laws, regulations, policies and procedures.
"Certain departments monitored their own compliance issues with very limited resources," the report found. Ensuring compliance with the federal Clery Act, which requires the reporting of crimes, was handled by someone with "minimal time."
"One of the most challenging tasks confronting the university," the report added, "is an open, honest and thorough examination of the culture that underlies the failure of Penn State's most powerful leaders to respond appropriately to Sandusky's crimes."
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said after the report that the school was "in much better position to respond" to the NCAA"s request.