Accrediting body looking at Penn State over Jerry Sandusky case

Posted: August 15, 2012

An accrediting body has warned Pennsylvania State University that its status "is in jeopardy" following recent developments in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and that it needs to take steps to preserve its accreditation.

University leaders expressed confidence Monday that Penn State would address all the concerns expressed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

"This action has nothing to do with the quality of education our students receive. Middle States is focusing on governance, integrity, and financial issues related to information in the Freeh report and other items related to our current situation," said Blannie Bowen, vice provost for academic affairs.

The commission issued its warning to Penn State last week based on the investigative report issued July 12 by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, the NCAA sanctions that the university accepted on July 23, and what the commission said was insufficient evidence that the university was in compliance with certain Middle States rules.

Penn State is required to submit a report by the end of September detailing what it has done and will do to comply.

"The commission wants us to document that steps we have already taken and are planning to take will ensure our full compliance with its requirements," said university president Rodney Erickson. "I am confident that we will provide that documentation by the Sept. 30 deadline Middle States has given us."

A commission team will then visit the university to assess and report on Penn State's compliance efforts. The university will have an opportunity to respond to that report. The commission will ultimately render a verdict.

"Based on the report and the visit, the commission could remove the warning, keep it in effect, or take other action," Bowen said.

"We certainly understand the concerns that Middle States has raised, but I am confident that we will satisfy those concerns."

Accreditation is a major factor in determining a school's status for federal and state financial aid, acceptance and transfer of credits, and student acceptance into graduate programs.

The Freeh report said that Joe Paterno, Penn State's revered football coach; former university president Graham B. Spanier; and other top administrators had conspired since 1998 to conceal child sex-abuse allegations against Sandusky, Paterno's longtime defensive coordinator.

The NCAA sanctioned the university with a $60 million fine, imposed a four-year postseason ban on the football team, and vacated all Penn State football wins from 1998 through 2011. Scholarships for football players also were cut.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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