* Penn State may face other, less damaging sanctions
* Academic relations with companies not yet affected
By Ernest Scheyder
NEW YORK, July 12 Penn State's powerhouse
football program could face a range of sanctions from the NCAA
in the wake of a damning report about the cover-up of child sex
abuse, but will likely avoid having its team temporarily
suspended through the much-feared "death penalty."
The NCAA, the governing body of U.S. college sports, said
it was reviewing Thursday's report by former FBI director Louis
Freeh, who blamed Penn State officials for concealing sex abuse
by Jerry Sandusky to protect the school's reputation.
Sandusky, the team's former defensive coach who helped make
Pennsylvania State University a collegiate football giant, was
convicted last month of 45 counts of child molestation and faces
up to 373 years in prison.
In past sports scandals, the NCAA has issued a so-called
"death penalty" - effectively suspending a program for several
years. It did as much to Southern Methodist University in the
late 1980s after an investigation found the school paid some of
its football players.
The prevailing belief of former college coaches, sports
consultants and academics is that the NCAA won't take that step
in Penn State's case, largely because such a finding could only
come if a school was a "repeat offender," continuing the
offending action after a public warning.
"The likely scenario is the NCAA will issue damning and
condemning statements and call for the justice system to meet
out the appropriate punishment," said Marc Ganis, president of
sports consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd.
"That would be disappointing, because the NCAA is one of
those institutions that should take a stand on morality, not
The NCAA could, however, reduce scholarships for student
athletes at Penn State, prohibit the school from appearing in
bowl games or having their games televised, or keep some coaches
from appearing at games.
Technically, the NCAA could even void previous Penn State
victories, drastically altering the results of football seasons
NCAA officials did not return a call seeking comment.
The football program brings in more than $50 million in
profit annually for Penn State, according to a Forbes study,
funded in part by lucrative sponsorship deals with corporations
including PepsiCo Inc and Nike Inc.
A suspension would put all of that in jeopardy and alienate
the hundreds of thousands of fans that descend each fall on the
school's central Pennsylvania campus, nicknamed "Happy Valley,"
for football games.
The team's value to the university is certainly taking a
TEAM'S VALUE TAKES A HIT
The value of Penn State's football program fell to $408.1
million last December from $446.9 million as recently as last
October, according to Ryan Brewer, a professor at Indiana
University-Purdue University Columbus,
It had been ranked the third-most valuable team, but the
drop now makes it the thirteenth-most valuable, said Brewer, who
values collegiate teams as if they could be sold on the open
market like National Football League franchises.
"In the Sandusky case, Penn State officials were really
thinking about this amazing tree that grows money that Paterno
built over the course of four decades," said Brewer. "And
Sandusky basically gave that tree a nasty infection."
Bobby Bowden, the legendary former Florida State football
coach, said the school should move forward regardless.
"What Penn State and others will do, I'd imagine, is draw an
iron curtain between today and what happened in the past 50
years," said Bowden, who resigned in 2012 amid a controversy
over academic cheating on his football team.
"We've got to get the past behind us, and we're hoping the
Freeh report helps us move forward."
So far, the school's academic relationships with 49
companies which actively sponsor research and recruit students
have not been affected by the Sandusky case, Penn State said.
Chemical maker DuPont plans to continue to recruit
Penn State students and co-ordinate agricultural and other
research with the university.
"It is a very strong school with excellent graduates,"
DuPont spokeswoman Tara Condon-Tullier said of Penn State.
Lockheed Martin Corp, though, declined to comment.
The aerospace contractor has in the past worked with Penn State
faculty on scores of research projects.
Beyond academia, corporations are making moves.
Iconic show maker Nike Inc said on Thursday the
Freeh report convinced it to rename the Joe Paterno Child
Development Center at its Oregon headquarters.
Nike CEO Mark Parker said he was "deeply saddened" by the
investigation, but did not say whether he would reevaluate the
company's sponsorship deals with the school. The company
supplies football uniforms for the Nittany Lions.
"It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected
from such abhorrent crimes," Parker said.
Apart from the financial damage Penn State will endure, its
reputation is forever tarnished.
"I just don't think anyone could have dreamt this," said B.
David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University. "It would be like
finding out that Mother Theresa was a drug dealer."