According to an independent investigative report conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, Mr. Paterno was involved in concealing Sandusky’s abusive behavior from authorities. The university’s board of trustees hired Mr. Freeh to investigate the university’s handling of the Sandusky accusations.
The NCAA based its sanctions on the Freeh report. Besides the $60 million fine, the NCAA also imposed a four-year ban on bowl games and any post-season play, a reduction in the number of football scholarships from 25 to 15, and the forfeiture of all wins between 1998-2011.
In imposing the sanctions, the NCAA took the unusual step in bypassing its usual policy for investigating possible violations, which can take a year or more. When announcing the sanctions in July, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the Freeh report was “vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation” his organization had ever conducted.
But Corbett asserts that, by relying on the Freeh report and not on its own policies for misconduct, NCAA officials “simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system.”
Ellen Staurowksy, who teaches sports management at Drexel University’s School of Education in Philadelphia, says the NCAA became vulnerable when it rushed to impose sanctions instead of deliberating with hearings that could bear out what she suggested were excessive sanctions.
“The NCAA overreached and really ought to have had the courts handle this case. There was no NCAA rule that was violated,” Ms. Staurowksy says. “Within their rule structure, there was no violation of athlete eligibility or under the table payments. So if the wrongdoing [in the Sandusky case] did not fall under the purview of the NCAA, then why did they sanction? That is what this case is challenging.”