Penn State's two most prized recruits, quarterback Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Breneman, would remain committed to the Nittany Lions even if the NCAA were to sanction the program with a TV or bowl ban.
Hackenberg, one of the nation's top quarterback recruits for the class of 2013, said his commitment to Penn State remains strong.
"Yeah, without a doubt," he said.
"Unless it was something completely wild like death penalty or something, I'm still coming to Penn State," he said of potential NCAA sanctions.
Asked if he would remain committed if there's a TV or bowl ban, Hackenberg said, "Yeah. It would have to be the death penalty or the whole staff leave."
Breneman is the top tight end in the nation, and his father, Brian, said his son is "prepared to stick with Penn State kind of through thick and thin."
"As long as there's football at Penn State, Adam's going to be committed," Brian Breneman said by phone.
Even if there's a TV or bowl ban?
"Yeah, I believe he would," Breneman's father said.
The death penalty would be the only punishment that would give Breneman second thoughts.
"Certainly he'd have to take that into consideration," his father said.
NCAA rules experts contacted by the Mirror have said they don't believe the governing body will punish the football program for school officials' handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. It's a matter of jurisdiction, the sources said, and while NCAA sanctions are possible, they would be unprecedented for an issue that involves criminal rather than competition matters.
Still, in light of the Freeh report and all the negative publicity Penn State has received in recent days, the NCAA could decide the mistakes made by school officials were so severe that the organization could set a precedent and levy punishment.
Hackenberg didn't want to comment on the fallout from the Freeh report.
"I really haven't watched a lot, but I know my dad had been paying attention," he said.
The Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy quarterback remains strong to his commitment because of his relationship with coach Bill O'Brien and the PSU staff.
"I'm a complete new-staff guy," Hackenberg said. "I was recruited by Coach O'Brien, was offered by that staff, and that staff has sort of sold me on Penn State. So I'm solid with those guys."
He has been very impressed by what O'Brien has been able to accomplish under difficult circumstances.
"He's done one heck of a job pulling in a class in a situation that most guys wouldn't have been able to do," Hackenberg said. "We're going to keep building it. I know that he's been working hard, him and his staff are working hard.
"I know Adam, myself, [and fellow recruits] Brendan Mahon, Garrett Sickels, Ross Douglas, everyone, we're all working hard to really build this class."
Hackenberg has done his best to sell Penn State to other players throughout the recruiting process. Nothing that's happened over the past eight months has swayed his belief in the school or the football program.
"I felt like regardless of what happened it's still a great opportunity," Hackenberg said. "It's a great school, they win a lot of football games, it's a great program, and you can't take that away from what those players in the past have done. And the opportunity it provides for players in the future like us.
"So I'm really just trying to sell it. I want the best guys around me. I know Adam does, I know everyone else does. So we're all just trying to get the best players that we can find to fit into the program and continue to win football games, because that's ultimately the goal, and getting the kids their education as well, which is sometimes tough to find out there in terms of schools."
Breneman also has stayed in contact with other recruits, trying to sell Penn State.
"I think the fact that certainly Penn State -- despite the current issues -- it's still a strong school and a great institution, and I think he's very committed to the coaching staff and Bill O'Brien and the team," Breneman's father said.
"[It's] a team that's certainly been put in a difficult situation but had nothing to do with the problems that everyone's dealing with today. I think for that reason he's staying committed."
Breneman will have to miss his senior season at Cedar Cliff after tearing the ACL in his right knee last month. He underwent surgery and is recovering well.
"He's been in rehab now for a couple of days, everything's gone well, the surgery went well," his father said. "He's in pretty good spirits and focused on getting back out there as soon as possible."