Penn State Scandal: University Could Receive Death Penalty, According To Report

According to legal experts speaking with The Patriot-News on Saturday afternoon, Penn State football might receive the death penalty, the most severe punishment that can be given out by the NCAA. The heightened discussion comes on the heels of Friday's CNN report, which uncovered an email indicating school officials agreed not to report allegations of child-sexual abuse against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to authorities.

"Once you start hearing that the athletic department isn't responding to the chain of authority properly, that's an institutional control problem, and the NCAA is built around protecting that institutional control," University of Toledo sports law professor Geoffrey Rapp told the The Patriot-News. "The problem is if Paterno was able to tell the school what to do and the school doesn't have in place the right kind of hierarchy from the NCAA's perspective."

Only one Football Bowl Subdivision program, SMU, has ever received the death penalty. Though the NCAA would be within its right to impose such a harsh punishment to the Nittany Lions' program, it likely won't, according to Rapp.

Rapp said he thinks the university probably will avoid the death penalty as long as it cooperates with the NCAA in its investigation and volunteers to institute self-imposed penalties.

For continued coverage of the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, be sure to follow this StoryStream and stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh. For more, check out Black Shoe Diaries, SB Nation's Penn State blog.

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