NCAA investigating Penn State

The NCAA is launching an investigation abuse case against former Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Specifically, the NCAA will examine Penn State's exercise of institutional control over its athletics program, as well as the actions taken by relevant individuals involved.

NCAA president Mark Emmert revealed the investigation in a letter to Penn State president Rodney Erickson, dated November 17. Emmert said the NCAA does not intend to interfere with criminal investigations and will use any information gained from them for its own review.

Earlier this month, Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of various sexual crimes against children, but the case has reached far beyond him.

It has involved former PSU athletic director Tim Curley, who has been charged with perjury and failure to report, and stepped down from his position. Gary Schultz, who oversaw the school's police department, faces similar charges.

It swept up former head coach Joe Paterno and former university president Graham Spanier, who were fired November 9 by the board of trustees.

Those actions occurred after the November 5 release of a grand jury presentment, which detailed Sandusky's actions and found that eight young men were the targets of sexual advances or assaults starting in 1994 and continuing through 2009.

The breadth of the allegations, both in terms of time and number, prompted numerous questions. The charges and details in the grand jury report suggest that Penn State administrators turned a blind eye toward Sandusky's alleged actions, covered them up, or took little action once aware of them.

"The recount of these tragic events in the Grand Jury Report is deeply troubling, and if true, individuals who were in a position to monitor and act upon learning potential abuses appear to have been acting starkly contrary to the values of higher education, as well as the NCAA," wrote Emmert in his letter.

Emmert's letter listed four questions, which he said Penn State should answer by December 16. Specifically, the NCAA wants to know:

- How Penn State and/or its employees complied with various bylaws -- pertaining to institutional control, accountability and ethical conduct -- that Emmert cited in his letter.

- How Penn State exercised institutional control over the issues in the grand jury report, as well as if the school followed any procedures that may have been in place.

- If the people alleged to be involved have behaved consistently with principles of ethical conduct and honesty.

- What policies and procedures Penn State has in place to monitor, prevent and detect the issues related to the grand jury report, as well as what procedures Penn State has in place to take disciplinary action if such behavior is found.

Emmert wrote that the behaviors and failure described in the grand jury report try the integrity of the university and the NCAA.

"It is critical that each campus and the NCAA as an Association re-examine how we constrain or encourage behaviors that lift up young people rather than making them victims," Emmert's letter said.

The question of institutional control is embodied by one alleged incident in the grand jury report, which has become a flashpoint in the case.

According to the grand jury report, in 2002, assistant football coach Mike McQueary said he witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in the showers at Penn State's football facility.

McQueary reported it to Paterno, who informed Curley but apparently took no further steps.

That alleged incident came four years after the mother of an alleged victim reported an incident to Penn State police. During the alleged episode, Sandusky showered with a young boy in a Penn State facility. State College police later listened in on a conversation between the mother and Sandusky, who said he showered with other boys.

Despite the report and despite the evidence, criminal charges were never filed against Sandusky, who remained on Paterno's staff as defensive coordinator until 1999 and maintained an office in Penn State's athletic facility after stepping down.