Penn State penalties put collegiate athletics on notice

Ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 sex-abuse counts.
Ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 sex-abuse counts. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 25, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - Throughout the news conference discussing the sanctions placed on Penn State's football program, members of the NCAA spoke about changing the culture in collegiate athletics.

Certainly, severe sanctions that include a $60 million fine, significant scholarship reductions, and a four-year ban on bowls - penalties now faced by Penn State - will get the attention of any program.

The NCAA is hoping that other member schools look at this case and examine their own programs.

"I think every major college and university needs to do a gut check and ask where they are in appropriate balance between the culture and athletics," said Ed Ray, executive committee chair for the NCAA and president of Oregon State.

David Berst, the NCAA vice president for Division I, agrees that there is no better time than now for self-examination by member institutions.

"This is really a message to the athletic culture we have in various programs," Berst said. "Somehow, that can't so overwhelm the other reasons we conduct athletic programs."

One of the measures Penn State must take is to enter into an "athletics integrity agreement" with the NCAA.

Penn State must adopt all of the Freeh report recommendations and appoint an independent, NCAA-selected athletics integrity monitor to oversee compliance with the agreement.

"We also welcome the Athletics Integrity Agreement and the third-party monitor, who will be drilling into compliance and culture issues in intercollegiate athletics, in conjunction with the recommendations of the Freeh Report," Penn State president Rodney Erickson wrote in a statement released by the school.

No doubt the NCAA will continue to have more discussions on how to make other programs sure they are complying with the rules. It seems that the leaders understand that simply hoping schools will remain upright is not enough. That is why it wouldn't be surprising for the NCAA to be more proactive in the future.

"We obviously hope we never see anything of this magnitude and egregiousness in our lives, but we do have to make sure the cautionary tale of athletics overwhelming core values of an institution and losing sight of why we are really participating in these activities can occur," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. "That is the balance every university needs to strike."

One way of getting a school's attention is to let it know that more will be done to monitor its actions. Berst indicated this could happen when he was asked if the NCAA will step up its efforts in investigating lack of institutional control charges.

"I think there will be a reemphasis in that area," he said. "I believe we will probably pull together a group of experts and maybe some folks from the outside to talk about that and to be more explicit about how we do that within the enforcement context going forward."

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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