Is the Penn State scandal an NCAA matter? We are a lot closer to finding out. The official statement, released earlier today:
"Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today. As President Emmert wrote in his November 17th letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond. Penn State's response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State's continued cooperation in our examination of these issues."
(There is also a link to the news that the NCAA has adopted an official child sexual abuse prevention organization.)
The statement is terse, but it is telling enough that there are "four key questions" that have been asked. The NCAA may not yet know if it'll act, but it knows somewhat specifically what it's looking for.
It's a safe bet that the NCAA is waiting for the ongoing federal investigation before making its own decision. There are lots of opinions from smart people (and also from dumb people) out there, if you want to read them, on whether the NCAA should get involved in Penn State's punishment. But for the record, the NCAA is specifically mentioned just three times in the Freeh Report, and each regarding the school's compliance office.
The report finds that Penn State's compliance office was, and still is, "decentralized" and "significantly understaffed." More often, compliance checks were carried out by the separate Office of Internal Audits. Charles Robinson, who knows a thing or two about NCAA investigations, says a weak compliance office is often a sign of the NCAA's all-purpose boogeyman "Institutional Control."
The Freeh Report also makes a recommendation: It calls for more staff and more funding for Penn State's compliance office, with employees being better trained on "requisite working knowledge of the NCAA, Big Ten Conference and University rules." For its part, the university is hiring for a new postion: a Director of University Compliance that would report directly to the Board of Trustees. They start looking at resumés on Tuesday.
Whatever the NCAA decides, there is still the DOE, and the Clery Act, and the Justice Department, (which happens to be asking around if school funds were ever used to buy Sandusky victims' silence). It's not simple for anyone. NCAA President Mark Emmert said this 19 months ago: "For me, Coach Paterno is the definitive role model of what it means to be a college coach," It's almost not fair to bring up his statement again, because since last autumn a lot of people have turned out to be wrong about a lot of things.
Read all our coverage of the Freeh report here.
Photo via the AP