2011-11-24 / Features

Association Launches Investigation Of Penn State

By GENARO C. ARMAS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (AP) – The organization that oversees university athletics in the United States has said it will investigate a major university in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal.

National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert sent a letter to new Penn State president Rod Erickson saying that the group will examine “Penn State’s exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs’’ in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator accused of serial child sex abuse.

“ We have to examine those facts and make a thoughtful determination of what is covered by our bylaws and what is not,’’ Emmert told The Associated Press on Friday.

Emmert said the case is not yet a formal investigation, though the inquiry could lead to that. NCAA investigators have not yet been on Penn State’s campus. Emmert has asked the university to respond by Dec. 16 to several questions.

If the NCAA decides to move ahead from there, the process could take an additional six to 10 months.

“Everyone that works inside a university, a coach, an administrator, a faculty member is first an educator and mentor,’’ Emmert said. “When you’re in that position you have a responsibility to provide leadership and maintain a high ethical standard.’’ Sandusky is accused of abusing eight boys, some on campus, over 15 years. Among the charges is an alleged assault in 2002 that was not brought to the attention of police, according to a grand jury report, even though top officials at Penn State knew there was an accusation of inappropriate behavior.

The resulting scandal has tarnished the image of a major college football program that has prided itself on the slogan “Success with Honor.’’ It has shocked the campus, and cost the university’s former president and the program’s beloved football coach, who ran the team for four decades, their jobs.

“It will be important for Penn State to cooperate fully and provide any assistance possible to the NCAA,’’ Erickson said in a statement. “ The university’s and NCAA’s interests are perfectly aligned in identifying what went wrong and how to prevent anything similar from happening again.’’

The school’s athletic department also released a statement, pledging it would work with the NCAA.

Also on Friday, the university’s faculty Senate endorsed a resolution asking for an investigation to be led by a committee whose chair has no links to Penn State. The resolution also called for a majority of the group’s members to have never been affiliated with the university.

Penn State has faced criticism since announcing last week that an internal investigation would be led by two university trustees, Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier and state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis.

University Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave as a result of the scandal, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, has retired.

Schultz and Curley each are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police. They maintain their innocence, as does Sandusky.

In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation of Sandusky, Penn State has started its own, internal review and the U.S. Department of Education is examining whether the school failed to report incidents of sexual abuse on campus, as required by federal law.

Soon after Penn State announced that the NCAA was getting involved in the case, Scott Paterno, the son of excoach Joe Paterno, said his father has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. The younger Paterno said his father is expected to make a full recovery.

Emmert, in his letter, said the allegations in the case are testing “not only the integrity of the university, but that of intercollegiate athletics as a whole and the NCAA member institutions that conduct college sports.’’

The NCAA in the letter asked Penn State to respond to various questions, including:

– How did Penn State exercise “institutional control over the issues identified in and related’’ to the grand jury report? Did the school have procedures in place that were, or were not, followed?

– The NCAA also wants to know if “each of the alleged persons to have been involved or have notice of the issues identified in and related’’ to the grand jury report behaved according to the school’s policies on honesty and ethical conduct.

– The NCAA also asked Penn State to explain its policies and procedures that are “in place to monitor, prevent and detect the issues identified in and related to the Grand Jury Report.’’

Paterno, Division I’s winningest coach with 409 victories, was fired by university trustees Nov. 9, the same night then-president Graham Spanier also left his job under pressure. School leaders faced mounting criticism that more should have done to prevent the alleged abuse.

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