Paterno: What can NCAA do?

Submitted by mackbru on November 7th, 2011 at 1:59 PM

I seem to be among the many who are confused re the degree to which the NCAA can/will do here, especially in terms of Paterno. This case goes so far beyond the usual NCAA issues and guidelines that maybe one of our MGolawyers will be kind enough to explicate the NCAA angle.

Let's assume the prosecutor's allegations generally hold up. (A big assumption, I realize.)  At the very least, it seems, Paterno satisfied the minimum requirement: He informed the AD. But is that all the NCAA requires of him? Especially since he was the Tressel of PSU: Paterno, although technically outranked by the AD, was the de facto boss.

I appreciate that the NCAA issues are a distant second to the legal, moral, and ethical issues here. But this situation is so singular in its grotesquerie -- and so open to wild speculation -- that a little clarification would be productive.



November 7th, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

Paterno followed legal and PSU guidelines. Whether what he did (and we don't know exactly what he did) was enough is another question, but the prosecutor praised his conduct and he followed PSU procedure.


November 7th, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

And, how many more kids were abused because he followed the correct proceedure?  As an MSU fan, we all take shots at each other--that's part of the fun, and the way it should be. 

But, this PSU thing is far from fun.  I've been involved in education my entire life.  If I am told about something like that, I follow up on it.  This was one of Paterno's top guys and it happened in HIS ****ing locker room, and the best they have is he followed preceedures?  Were prodeedures, wait over 24 hours and make one call?  Paterno never once asked the guy, "were you abusing children in my locker room?"  And you know that story had to have gotten around that office.  They're all to blame.  If that little guy was you or your son, would you be pleased with Paterno following proceedure the way he did?  It's bullshit, total unvarnished bullshit.  The man should be fired, anyone on that staff fired, and the place razed.  I'm serious about that.  If that happened in my locker room, I tear the eff'n place down.  Child sexual abuse is the worse crime that can be comminted on earth. 


November 7th, 2011 at 7:38 PM ^

I'd like you to point out exactly where anyone has said Paterno did not ask the questions you claim he didn't. Paterno hasn't been deposed or testified, and we have no idea what he asked or was told. When we do, we will have a clear idea of what should happen to him. You do realize that one of the guys indicted was in charge of university police? If JoePa was asking him for updates once a week or however often he saw the guy, or was told that the police looked into it and weren't able to find any evidence, then what? Then you've disgraced a guy who thought he was following up with the cops, and was lied to by an administrator also facing perjury charges.

Am I disappointed in Joe Paterno? Yes. Should he have done more? I only say yes because it is not possible to do enough in cases like these. However, you can't go around making claims that you have no basis for. Once he's gone on the record as to his specific actions after learning about the witness account, then you can say whatever you want based on facts known to be true. Until then it's idle speculation about a guy with decades of reputation built up for doing the correct things.


November 7th, 2011 at 9:25 PM ^

I am not misinformed. He has not answered what follow-up he made to the university police administrator or to the AD, how often he did, ect, nor what he was told by those officials. He might have done so in the sealed part of his testimony to the GJ, but certainly not on the record anywhere else.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

I think Paterno is "retiring" (whether he wants to or not) after the season so the NCAA won't have to do anything.

I think the bigger question is what in holy heck does this do to Penn State's football program. Obviously it isn't a "football" issue, so no NCAA violations are coming. I have no idea if the PR nightmare this is will affect recruiting/finding a new coach.


November 7th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

Even if Jim Tressel did everything we've accused him of (overlooking payments to players over a decade, covering up same, allowing boosters to have illegal access to players, covering up same), it pales in comparison to what Joe Paterno has admitted to doing.  Paterno admitted that he simply told his AD when a graduate assistant came to him with eyewitness evidence of a former 60 year old stafffer showering with a ten year old boy in a manner that the grad assistant consider disturbing enough to be "distraught."  I have no love for Jim Tressel, but this is many factors of 10 worse.  A child, still unindentified, was anally raped in his facility by his colleague and he did not call people with guns.  There are, right now, kids who were raped because Joe Paterno is a moral midget and did not bring this man to justice.  Jim Tressel's transgressions, at worst, won him some football games he shouldn't have won and let some bad apples stay in college longer than they otherwise would have.  Jim Tressel's transgressions were almost entirely football related and did not involve scores of young boys being deprived of their youth by a child molester he allowed to remain free through knowing indifference. 


November 7th, 2011 at 7:29 PM ^

Joe Pa associated with Sandusky for decades.  You're telling me he didn't sniff at this guy's slime ever?  Joe Pa was after all, the one who empowered Sandusky by hiring him and retaining him. 

Everyone has a radar.  We all have some semblance of a gaydar for example.  Nothing wrong with that.  I have some very good gay friends, so this has nothing with gay, but it does have to do with everyone just having a common sensical radar with regard to others around them, and I merely use Gaydar as an example.

In my late 20s, I once met a rich, middled aged guy from Birmingham, MI at a dinner party a friend invited me to that this guy was hosting.  Within minutes I sensed something odd about the guy.  He had the exact same proclivities Sandusky had pursuant to the GJ report , except he directed his predatory oddness toward adult men.  He came over for the introduction and put his hand on my lower back.  Odd, uncomfortable.  Later that night, he came and sat next to me and put his hand on my knee...   Game over.  All I needed to know.  Later on that night, when he came over and asked me if I had good abdominal muscles, and he tried to rub my stomach, yes, at this dinner party, it just confirmed to me I was dealing with a Sandusky type who thankfully appeared to just have it out for adult men, and not children.

Later that night when we left I asked my friend what the fuck that was, and he said he knew about it, and everyone knew the guy was weird, but my buddy still went to the dinners because hot girls frequently attended...  And it is true, there was some heat in attendance.  We were guys in our 20's what do you want...

I figured this all out from one night, and not just because he targeted me.  I would have sensed it a mile away no matter who he targeted.

You're going to tell me with all the kids Sandusky took with him to bowl games, into the locker rooms, and with his close relationship with Paterno for decades, that Paterno never smelled a thing?  And that "we were all fooled" as he said even after the reports and his even having to take action from the assistant coach's report?  

We were all fooled JoePa?  That is the best you can come up with?  Bull followed by Shit.  Paterno deserves the inferred slime on him.  He's an old codger who won't retire and let someone else earn a head coaching paycheck, I have no sympathy for him just because he's on death's door.


November 7th, 2011 at 8:28 PM ^

Tressel was a badass. So he kicked the shit out of Michigan year in and year out. So he looked the other way as his players sold their shit and received benefits. Nobody's LIFE was ruined. But lives sure are ruined with this scandel and Paterno was too close to it to not have his reputation ruined by what happened there. Even if he followed procedure and it wasn't actually him, it is all too egregious.

Stephen Hawking

November 7th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

I will preface my post with the fact that it's early on in the process and the investigation could go through many turns.

That being said, I think Paterno shares a significant element of blame here. A coordinator who was working under him had been allegedly raping young boys. The fact that he didn't go to the police, and didn't make a huge deal of this to the AD or to the PSU president is VERY troubling. You don't simply "follow procedure" when felonies are being committed in your program. And let's make no bones about it: Joe Paterno = PSU. Everything that program does goes through him.

It seems that he took less-than-aggressive action to prevent something so heinous when he had total power to do so. In my mind, JoePa's half-assed actions led to multiple young boys' lives being irrecoverably scarred. He had the power AND the responsibility to make sure that his program was clean and to ensure the safety of these kids, at least with respect to being raped by one of his coordinators. If JoePa had utilized his powerful position, he could have gotten this horrible coordinator out of his program and into prison where he belongs. Instead, all he did was forward a report up the chain of command (who did nothing of substance about it, which should have encouraged JoePa to do something like inform the police).

Unfortunately, that sounds even worse than Jim Tressel to me. So don't automatically assume that Joe Paterno is completely innocent in this matter.

The Squid

November 7th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

Jerry Sandusky wasn't a coordinator in 2002 at the time of the shower rape. He was a "coach emeritus" or something, having been forced to retire after the 1998-99 season. It's not clear to me exactly how he fit into the Penn St athletic department hierarchy, but I don't think that he reported to Paterno. I'd guess that Sandusky was part of the AD's purview.

None of which is an excuse for Paterno not contacting the police directly.


November 7th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

How dare you compare Paterno to Tressel.

The only people I see seriously making this comparison are Ohio fans on national sites, who think that the events at PSU will somehow make Ohio State's cheating look "harmless" in comparison.

Paterno chose to not believe a GA's "he said, he said" over a person who had been his trusted assistant for longer than most people coach at all. In retrospect, his loyalty was misplaced, but who's to say anyone here in a similar situation would believe the GA's account?

I would imagine that nobody feels worse about this right now than Joe Paterno. OTOH, Jim Tressel had no remorse for anything other than getting caught.

The two have nothing in common other than their profession.


November 7th, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

OSU's cheating is harmless in comparison. 

At OSU, players traded on their fame to get free stuff and the coach turned a blind eye. Those offenses were victimless, apart from the relatively unimportant world of competitive balance within college football.

At Penn State, 10-year-old children were raped by a staff member and the coach and higest levels of the university's administration turned a blind eye. The  8 victims (and likely more) were all prepubescent children. 

That this is some "he said, he said" situation is too odious to even comment upon.


November 7th, 2011 at 7:42 PM ^

This is the last post I'll make here. I know this is a UM board, and I just wanted another school's take on it.

But the above post is spot on.  If you think some slimy football coach is a worse situation than a guy allowing child rape to happen under his nose--in his locker room--than I honestly don't know what to say.  If someone comes to you with that story, you check it out.  You call the ****ing police.  No one makes up a story like that.  And no one should just pass it off to the boss and forget about it. 

Ask yourselves, would you take OSU's problems or PSU's problems.  If any of you take PSU's issues than you are fools.  Through inaction, the HIGHEST level of authority allowed children to be raped on campus, in the heart of PSU football.

Think about that, and thank God it didn't happen at your school.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

From my understanding from the Washington Post article (don't have the link handy), knowing and not reporting to the authorities is also against the law for Paterno.

Reporting it to the AD doesn't absolve him of culpability.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

He was told by someone who said they saw it and reported it to the AD, who covered it up. You can say he's morally culpable because he could have told the cops about what he heard and had them investigate directly, but he didn't do anything illegal, it appears.


In other news, and obviously take this with a grain of salt, a friend of mine from PA sent me a message that a radio station is reporting that Urban Meyer's apparently been seen around town or something. 


All the rumors earlier about Urban replacing Paterno make more sense in light of this scandal.  The NCAA isn't going to do anything, but the scandal is still bad enough to clean house.  They won't fire Joe, but it's time for him to go.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Paterno made a statement to the media. Here is the pertinent bit:


"As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

If we take him at his word, then he did not break any laws. Indeed, he followed what was the proper procedure in that he forwarded the disturbing but nonspecific report to the university administrators currently under indictment. Considering that Sandusky was not on the staff at that point, I think that Paterno's actions were defensible, if not perfectly correct from a moral standpoint. From a legal standpoint, I don't see what crime Paterno committed if his account is true, as all he knew was that a  grad assistant was alleging that a former coach did something inappropriate with a child, which is not much to go to the police on.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

The event that was reported to Paterno was significant enough that he called for and had a meeting the next day with his superiors.  What the prosecutor said, and I watched the news conference, was that at this juncture Paterno wasn't being charged with a crime.  That is the legal side of things which are not yet concluded.

But is there not another issue, and that is whether or not Paterno had an eithical/moral imperative to ensure child abuse was not swept under the rug, which is exactly what happened. As we saw with OSU, the program came first. This isn't tatgate, a veritable fly on an elephant's ass compared to the sexual abuse of young kids, something that I see as the lowest of the low. For Paterno to be expressing his remorse at this juncture is disingenuous at best as it was patently obvious that no action took place.  The abuse purportedly contiinued for another seven years. 


November 7th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

He contacted his superiors the next day because that's something you automatically report, even if you don't believe it. Seeing as Paterno and Sandusky were friends for decades and Paterno apparently didn't know about anything until the 2002 incident, I wouldn't be surprised if Paterno thought that Sandusky did something inappropriate but no where near as serious as what actually happened. Perhaps he thought that the GA was overreacting a little. At any rate, I doubt his first reaction was to assume that his old friend was committing heinous crimes against children in the face of information that apparently wasn't specific.

Furthermore, it's quite possible that Paterno did, at some point, ask the administrators what came of the case. If so, then I imagine that the administrators would have told him that it wasn't a big deal. Also, I'm a lot more inclined to be angry at the grad assistant, who actually witnessed the unspeakable act and didn't go to the police. Instead, it took Sandusky sexually assaulting a kid at a school where the administrators immediately contacted the authorites to convene a grand jury and indict the bastard.

What Sandusky allegedly did was truly heinous. Based on the evidence spelled out in the indictment, I hope that he spends the rest of his life in prison and spends the rest of eternity rotting in hell. But we do not yet know what exactly Paterno knew, nor do we know his exact actions. And if there's anyone in the world of college sports that I'd give the benefit of the doubt on an issue of moral character, it's Paterno.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

My comment to that is "Where the FUCK was the follow-up?"  Either from him or Mike McQuery?  It feels like a CYA, "I reported it and then moved on" is NOT good enough if you're talking about sexual abuse of a minor.  If nothing else don't you wonder why the issue has quietly died? 

McQuery's the one I find unbelievable in all this, if he saw what he says he saw how does he not stop it at the time?  and then how does he let the issue go over nine years?


November 7th, 2011 at 3:16 PM ^

For everyone to let Paterno off by  saying that what he was told was non-specific. YET it was still worthy of reporting to the university, makes no sense. He has a duty to follow up with that assistant who was "distraught" and get all the information he can. If the assistant did let him know enough about what happened, then he has to go to the law. That's the law in Pennsylvania. Real simple. The AD is not a proper authority for reporting felonies. Especially felonies this heinous. The guy is an educated man entrusted with the program and the well-being of kids generally.   I hope he doesn't get off on the: "this is too hard for me to listen to, so I won't ask obvious follow-up questions" defense. That's total garbage.

He let this guy back into the football building. He should have had him thrown off the campus immediately. No questions asked. Don't tell me Joe Paterno doesn't have that power at Penn State.


November 7th, 2011 at 4:10 PM ^

Paterno admitted that McQueary's statement still included a 60 year old man showering alone with a 10 year old boy and something of a sexual nature occuring such that it caused McQueary to be "distraught".  That's more than enough for any sane human being to call someone with a gun.


November 7th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

There is no indication that Paterno was responsible to report it to legal authorities. In fact, PA does not have a law requiring this of him, but rather him report it to his bosses, which he did. His legal responsibility has been rehashed over and over and over again. The grand jury did not feel he did anything wrong - SO DROP IT ALREADY.

I can't say what Joe should or should not have done. I don't know how clearly the GA explained what he saw. I don't know how much of it Joe remembered or wanted to remember. Keep in mind, when you hear/see/experience something this horrendous, our natural tendency is to supress it. 

Furthermore, if Joe has followed up with his boss, who is to say he would have received an honest answer. Maybe he shoudl have called the police. But in the end, would you have? Keep in mind, just hearing the allegations are traumatic and he, just like all others might have not reacted correctly. 

I am oft to remember a simple reality - I wouldn't have done better, but probably worse. He reported it. I'm sure he regrets his lapse in judgment. The real villans are the PSU administrators who didn't investigate it, and Sandusky if the allegations prove true (remember, there is still a trial and Sandusky has a right to it ... not all allegations throughout time are true - though these look damning). Even if Sandusky is exonerated, the PSU officials failed.

Joe made a bad decision, but it wasn't malicious, intended to cover up, or protect a former coach. 


November 7th, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

The NCAA is not in the business of enforcing the law, it is in the business of enforcing NCAA Bylaws.  There is no NCAA Bylaw that was violated, although it arguably might have been violated if the victims were a little older--say 14-18--and they were football prospects.

Since they were not, the NCAA can't really do anything here.



November 7th, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

I find it very hard to believe that sanctions are not at least on the table when it is learned that an assistant coach is found guilty of using school athletic premises for criminal acts, especially given the fact that he was observed on at least one occasion.  You may be right in your assessment but I find it hard to believe that a school would not be held liable in some way (i.e. that there is not a "catchall" provision in the by-laws) for this situation.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

No school has ever been penalized for anything other than a violation of NCAA Bylaws.  I won't say there are no catch-alls, because the NCAA Manual is loaded with catch-alls, but this is the closest I can come (Bylaw 11.1.1): 

"Honesty and Sportsmanship. Individuals employed by or associated with a member institution to administer, conduct or coach intercollegiate athletics shall act with honesty and sportsmanship at all times so that intercollegiate athletics as a whole, their institutions and they, as individuals, represent the honor and dignity of fair play and the generally recognized high standards associated with wholesome competitive sports. (See Bylaw 10 for more specific ethical-conduct standards.)" 

Now here is the problem:  Bylaw 10 is all about how it is unethical to not follow NCAA Bylaws.  There is no discussion of following the law.  I have heard, as I am sure you have as well, stories of college coaches arrested for drunk driving, drug use, domestic abuse, rape, etc.  In none of those cases, as far as I am aware, has the NCAA brought penalties or even conducted an investigation.  The NCAA just doesn't enforce anything other than NCAA bylaws.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

Thanks for posting that provision.  That is definitely the catchall I imagined but you're right, its never used to discipline a school that employs coaches that are convicted of other criminal offenses.  I guess I would argue that the difference here is that PSU's internal policy of reporting failed to prevent continued criminal activity.  If Paterno wants to focus on the fact that he satisfied his duty to report by notifying the AD about the one instance, one could argue that the internal processes failed thereafter, evidenced by the fact that Sandusky had continued access to the PSU athletic facilities.  In other words, maybe it moves this case closer to the Miami situation (booster access to facilities) than the simple cases of a terminated coach being arrested for something or another.



November 7th, 2011 at 3:04 PM ^

I just read through the NCAA Bylaws and here are the relevant ones:

NCAA Bylaw 10.01/11.1.1:

Individuals employed by or associated with a member institution to administer, conduct or coach intercollegiate athletics shall act with honesty and sportsmanship at all times so that intercollegiate athletics as a whole, their institutions and they, as individuals, represent the honor and dignity of fair play and the generally recognized high standards associated with wholesome competitive sports.

NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (d):

Knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual’s institution false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation;

If the NCAA really wanted to shoehorn a violation in here, they could claim that Jerry Sandusky violated NCAA Bylaw 10.01, which is the stated general principle of ethical conduct for individuals associated with a member institution. They could then state that Penn State violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (d) when the AD failed to report this information to the NCAA. But seeing as the whole point of NCAA Bylaw 10.1 is to spell out what constitutes an ethical violation in the first place, this would be an incorrect application of the bylaws.

The bottom line is that there is nothing in the NCAA Bylaws to cover serious crimes outside of Bylaw 31.7.3, which has to do with providing counsel to people involved in legal action that pertains to their duties as an employee of the NCAA, so the NCAA doesn't have a procedure by which they could punish PSU.

If anyone's interested, here's a link (very lengthy PDF) to the NCAA Manual for 2009-10.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

My understanding is that he reported it to the AD. The AD is not an authority. He has no legal power. Doesn't state law require that Paterno report it to the police? He did nothing about the abuse, even when he knew about it and even when he knew that the AD wasn't going to the police. In my mind, he should be indicted for not providing that information to the police. He's just as much part of the cover up as the AD. So why is everyone saying what Paterno did was ok? 


November 7th, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

I don't know how the state law in Pennsylvania works. 

However, I work at a University, and if I reported something like this to my superior, I would assume that person and the University know the proper authorities to contact, what the procedures are for handling the employee, etc.   I would have no idea what the rules were regarding those things, but I would trust them to do it once I reported it. 

I don't know the specifics of the Paterno situation.  Maybe he was close enough to the situation that he knew or should have known it wasn't being followed through on, and that he should have done more.  But it's not 100% clear to me that this was the case.  


November 7th, 2011 at 2:52 PM ^

I'm willing to bet that JoePa was fully aware that nothing happened after reporting it to the AD.  This would have been huge news if it had been reported when it happened and there would have been no way to avoid hearing about it.  You can't tell me that it's morally right to report it and forget about it.  If something like that is going on, you raise hell to get it to stop.


November 7th, 2011 at 6:27 PM ^

Doesn't state law require that Paterno report it to the police? NO, not in PA. Again, read the grand jury report, read the AG's comment, and the fact that no charges were even considered being filed. 

He did nothing about the abuse, even when he knew about it and even when he knew that the AD wasn't going to the police. 

- Did he know the AD wasn't going to the police. It seems like he reported it and that's it. We also don't know the full details of what was being told to him from McQuery. 

And finally, what would you do. Oh sure, you'd go to the police, after being told potentially sordid details about a former assistant coach. Again, I think the shock of it might actually affect the outcome. I'd assume the AD looked into it. Those are serious claims. And what of McQuery or the janitor. Why did they say nothing either?

I think we see that people hear/see shockign things, and some things are so sick that we tend to ignore them to maintain some sense of sanity. It's not right, but in the end, our second judging of Paterno, who has a track record of doing the right thing, might deserve a shred of the benefit of the doubt. 

Again, lets direct our pain and anger at the real victims. I know this hurts and we are all frustrated, but lets focus on the real culprits and not seek to tear down lives in an effort to provide a sense of justice that will never be met, no matter how many people are taken down. Let's focus on the main perpetrator, and the clear, obvious enablers, of which Paterno is none more than the 80-100K+ fans who filled Beaver Stadium for years while Sandusky was a coach. 


November 7th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

Seems to me this has nothing to do with the NCAA.  They enforce the rules having to do with amateur status and how programs are run.  If a coach gets DUI there is nothing that can be done. 

I think this is a common misconception when people equate NCAA rules with the law.  One has nothing to do with the other.  For example, taking cash from some booster isn't illegal, just against NCAA rules.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:15 PM ^

But I am surprised that he thought he fulfilled any moral obligation by reporting it to the AD without any followup in 2002.  Further, the state Attorney General seemed to imply that the statute requires notification to the police (perhaps I am wrong on this specific issue).

Yet, Sandusky continued to have access to PSU facilities after the 2002 incident, including the shower rooms, and there was still no followup?

The only thing that brought this to the public attention were the three arrests: (1) of the perp and (2&3) the university officials who lied to the grand jury (perjury).

The horrible aspect of this is that young boys continued to be molested for 9 years following the 2002 incident.  In light of such, does anyone still believe that JoePa fulfilled his obligations?