Penn State braced for potentially crippling sanctions against its football program for covering up former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children, hours after it took down its statue of coach Joe Paterno for his role in the scandal.
The NCAA said Sunday it would announce punitive measures against the school today.
Yahoo Sports reported that NCAA president Mark Emmert has invoked special permission and will personally penalize Penn State with a “multiple-year” bowl ban and “crippling” scholarship losses.
Penn State’s storied football team is undergoing a reckoning after long serving as the university’s cash cow, not only for ticket and merchandise sales but for the goodwill it instilled in deep-pocketed donors and alumnae.
In June, Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. This month, former FBI director Louis Freeh released a report that criticized Paterno for his role in protecting Sandusky, and the school’s image, at the expense of Sandusky’s young victims.
The NCAA appeared to be moving with unprecedented speed, and to be relying on Freeh’s findings instead of conducting its own investigation.
“It means this is being handled independent of enforcement/infractions processes,” said Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska constitutional law professor and former chair of the NCAA infractions committee.
Attorney Alan Milstein said the Penn State case differed from other cases where the NCAA imposed disciplinary measures, in that the college faces potential criminal and civil penalties in addition to any punishment the NCAA might hand down.
“They’re paying fairly dearly in addition to these sanctions for the violations,” Milstein said.
Penn State could face hundreds of millions of dollars in civil liabilities, legal experts have said, and it has invited them to negotiate settlements.
The university is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of the Clery Act, which requires colleges to collect and report daily and annual crime statistics and issue timely warnings.
Penn State removed the 7-foot-tall statue of late football coach Joe Paterno from outside of Beaver Stadium on Sunday.
University leaders said the statue of Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January at age 85, had become “a source of division” at the school in the wake of the scandal that saw former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky be convicted of 45 counts related to child sex abuse.
“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement.
“I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse,” Erickson said.