The governing body for U.S. college athletics will investigate Penn State University over a child sex-abuse scandal that led to the firing of football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham B. Spanier.
Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, sent a letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson detailing the agency’s plans to look into the school’s “exercise of institutional control” and the “actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel.”
The NCAA gave Penn State until Dec. 16 to provide information related to how the school has complied with its bylaws before continuing its investigation.
Pfd Jeff Nelson, a spokesman for Penn State’s athletic department, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail or a phone message seeking comment on the NCAA action. The State College, Pennsylvania-based university posted the letter on its website.
The investigation centers on allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the actions of high-ranking university employees when a state grand jury report says they were initially informed of the accusations.
Penn State fired Paterno, 84, and Spanier, 63, after Sandusky, 67, was charged with 40 criminal counts tied to alleged sexual molestation of eight boys from 1994 to 2009.
Emmert said in the letter that the “tragic events” detailed in the grand jury report of the case are “deeply troubling.”
“If true, individuals who were in a position to monitor and act upon learning of potential abuses appear to have been acting starkly contrary to the values of higher education as well as the NCAA,” Emmert wrote. “The behaviors and failures described in the allegations set forth by the grand jury try not only the integrity of the university, but that of intercollegiate athletics as a whole and the NCAA.”
Emmert told Erickson that employees and coaches of Penn State, like all member schools, are teachers of young people and must do more than “avoid improper conduct or questionable acts.”
He specifically cited a bylaw that says employees and coaches must have moral values “so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example. Much more is expected of them than of the less- critically placed citizen.”
According to the grand jury report, Mike McQueary, then a 28-year-old graduate assistant, told Paterno in 2002 that he saw an attack in a shower in the school’s football building by Sandusky on a boy estimated to be 10 years old. Paterno told him to speak with Athletic Director Timothy Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, a senior vice president who oversaw university police.
Curley and Schultz were charged with perjury and failing to report the allegations.
Sandusky, Curley and Schultz all say they are innocent. Neither Paterno nor Spanier was charged.
The university announced on Nov. 7 that Schultz was stepping down and returning to retirement, while Curley was placed on administrative leave to focus on his defense. McQueary, now an assistant coach, also was placed on administrative leave last week.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Linda Kelly, has said that her investigation of the case remains open and the university’s Board of Trustees has opened its own probe. There also have been calls for investigations by state and U.S. legislative bodies.
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