By Genaro C. Armas
STATE COLLEGE - The NCAA will examine whether Penn State broke any rules with its handling of a child sex abuse scandal that has shocked the campus and cost the school's former president and coach Joe Paterno their jobs.
NCAA president Mark Emmert sent a letter to Penn State president Rod Erickson saying that the governing body for college sports will look at "Penn State's exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs" in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator accused of 40 counts of child sex abuse.
"We have to examine those facts and make a thoughtful determination of what is covered by our bylaws and what is not," Emmert told The Associated Press on Friday.
Emmert said the case is not yet a formal investigation, though the inquiry could lead to that. NCAA investigators have not yet been on Penn State's campus. Emmert has asked the university to respond by Dec. 16 to several questions.
If the NCAA decides to move ahead from there, the process could take an additional six to 10 months.
"Everyone that works inside a university, a coach, an administrator, a faculty member is first an educator and mentor," Emmert said. "When you're in that position you have a responsibility to provide leadership and maintain a high ethical standard."
Sandusky is accused of abusing eight boys, some on campus, over 15 years. Among the charges is an alleged assault in 2002 that was not brought to the attention of police, according to a grand jury report, even though top officials at Penn State knew there was an accusation of inappropriate behavior.
The resulting scandal has tarnished the image of a once squeaky-clean football program that has prided itself on the slogan "Success with Honor."
"It will be important for Penn State to cooperate fully and provide any assistance possible to the NCAA," Erickson said in a statement. "The university's and NCAA's interests are perfectly aligned in identifying what went wrong and how to prevent anything similar from happening again."
The school's athletic department also released a statement, pledging it would work with the NCAA.
Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university's police department, has retired.
Schultz and Curley each are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police. They maintain their innocence, as does Sandusky.
In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation of Sandusky, Penn State has started its own, internal review and the U.S. Department of Education is examining whether the school failed to report incidents of sexual abuse.