Jerry Sandusky (Getty Images)
By Erick Smith, USA TODAY
Reading between the lines of comments by NCAA president Mark Emmert, it appears Penn State has some serious explaining to do if it wants to avoid major sanctions for its handling of sexual abuse claims against Jerry Sandusky.
NCAA president Mark Emmert spoke with Tavis Smiley of PBS and delivered a harsh assessment of school officials in the wake of the Freeh Report delivered last week.
"I've never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university and hope never to see it again," Emmert said during the interview. "What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide."
Emmert said the NCAA would wait to hear Penn State's response to the Freeh Report, but wouldn't equivocally take a possible death penalty to the football program off the table.
"We'll hold in abeyance all of those decisions until we've actually decided what we want to do with the actual charges should there be any. And I don't want to take anything off the table."
The only other instance of the death penalty came after repeated violations by SMU during the 1980s. Emmert said the situation at Penn State was uncharted territory for the NCAA.
"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with," Emmert said. "This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal.
"Well it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."