On Sunday, the same day the statue honoring legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was taken down on campus, reports surfaced that the program Paterno’s success built into a nationally recognized name was on the verge of encountering unprecedented NCAA action.
The NCAA announced in a statement Sunday that it would unveil “corrective and punitive measures” for Penn State on Monday morning.
NCAA President Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, are scheduled to announce the sanctions at the organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis.
According to an ESPN.com report, Penn State is not expected to receive the death penalty, which would have closed down the school’s football program for at least one year. Rather, the report stated, the penalties are expected to include “a significant loss of scholarships and loss of multiple bowls.”
It is the process by which the NCAA is taking action against Penn State — rather than the penalties the NCAA is expected to issue — that is so unparalleled.
Either the NCAA Division I Board of Directors or the NCAA Executive Committee (or both) has armed Emmert with the ability to sanction using unconventional measures, according to ESPN.com.
The NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, has not penalized a member institution without first holding a Committee on Infractions hearing. Setting this matter further apart from all prior instances in which the NCAA has sanctioned a school is that Penn State is not believed to have committed any violations of specific NCAA regulations.
Earlier this month, former FBI director Louis Freeh released a report that found Paterno, in concert with three other top Penn State officials, had covered up allegations of child sexual abuse made against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach on the football team, for 14 years.
Typically, the NCAA goes through a process that can span more than a year when it has reason to believe violations of its rules have been committed. That process includes an NCAA investigation, the issuances of a notice of allegations, time for the accused school to respond, a Committee on Infractions hearing and time for the committee to draw its findings. None of that has taken place in the case of Penn State.
Using immoral or criminal behavior as a means to justify sanctions would constitute new territory for the NCAA.
In perhaps an attempt to mollify the NCAA, Penn State took down on Sunday morning the 7-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Paterno that was built in 2001.
In a statement, the Paterno family decried the statue’s removal from its pedestal outside Beaver Stadium as an act that “does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community.”
He has yet to be sentenced, though the charges carry a minimum 60-year sentence and 442 years at maximum.