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NCAA Announces Investigation of Penn State Athletic Programs

by on November 18, 2011 4:47 PM

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will investigate Penn State athletic programs in the coming weeks, the university learned via a letter Friday.

NCAA President Mark Emmert sent the letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson, according to the university.

The notice arrived in the wake of criminal charges filed against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and two top university officials: Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. A related state investigation is ongoing.

"I am writing to notify you that the NCAA will examine Penn State's exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs, as well as the actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel," Emmert wrote. "We recognize that there are ongoing federal and state investigations and the NCAA does not intend to interfere with those probes."

Emmert reported specific concern about several possible violations of NCAA bylaws, including "Lack of Institutional Control" -- a charge that can lead to some of the harshest penalties handed out by the NCAA.

Per the letter, Penn State will be required to answer several questions -- outlined below -- by Dec. 16. Once the NCAA has received responses, according to the letter, it will decide on what actions, if any, to take next.

  • How has Penn State and/or its employees complied with the Articles of the Constitution and bylaws that are cited in this letter?
  • How has Penn State exercised institutional control over the issues identified in and related to the grand-jury report?
  • Were there procedures in place that were or were not followed?
  • What are the institution's expectations and policies to address the conduct that has been alleged in this matter upon discovery by any party?
  • Has each of the people alleged to have been involved or to have had notice of the issues identified in and related to the grand-jury report behaved consistently with principles and requirements governing ethical conduct and honesty? If so, how? If not, how?
  • What policies and procedures does Penn State have in place to monitor, prevent and detect the issues identified in and related to the grand-jury report or to take disciplinary or corrective action if such behaviors are found?

More specifically, the bylaws and articles stated in the letter to Penn State include the following:

  • Article 2.1: "It is the responsibility of each member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association. The institution's president or chancellor is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the athletics program. These principles of institutional control are further elaborated on in Articles 6.01.1 and 6.4 of the NCAA constitution. "
  • Article 2.4: "For intercollegiate athletics to promote the character development of participants, to enhance the integrity of higher education and to promote civility in society, student-athletes, coaches, and all others associated with these athletics programs and events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values should be manifest not only in athletics participation, but also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the athletics program."
  • Bylaw 10.1 requires that individuals "act with honesty and sportsmanship at all times so that intercollegiate athletics as a whole, their institutions and they, as individuals, shall represent the honor and dignity of fair play and the generally recognized high standards associated with wholesome competitive sports."

Emmert commented on Bylaw 10.1 in some detail, stating that "while admittedly, the actions alleged to have occurred in this instance are not specifically listed in the bylaw, it is clear that deceitful and dishonest behavior can be found to be unethical conduct. Surely, the spirit of the bylaw also constrains behavior that endangers young people."

  • Bylaw 19.01.2 states that "individuals employed by or associated with member institutions for the administration, the conduct or the coaching of intercollegiate athletics are, in the final analysis, teachers of young people. Their responsibility is an affirmative one, and they must do more than avoid improper conduct or questionable acts. Their own moral values must be 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."

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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