Penn State Scandal: NCAA Can't Bring Hammer Down on Nittany Lions

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIINovember 19, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: A general view during the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 12, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

To say that it's been a rough couple of weeks at Penn State may be a bit of an understatement.

With the information of the sexual abuse scandal allegedly at the hands of Jerry Sandusky to the firing of Joe Paterno, spirits are low in Happy Valley.

Now it's clear that the NCAA will launch an investigation after acquiring information about the scandal.

On Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert sent a letter to Penn State informing them about the plan to look at "Penn State's exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs."

The case is not a formal investigation, but could very likely become one.

The thing is, there isn't much that the NCAA can or should do.

Don't get me wrong, they need to launch an investigation. They can't sit back and do nothing about accusations of sexual abuse on children by a former coach on the team.

However, it just doesn't seem that there is much that they can do.

Emmert even admits that there were no specific NCAA rules that were broken. The idea of "unethical conduct" that Emmert refers to could really result in some problems.

Defining unethical conduct is going to be difficult. Is the NCAA going to investigate every situation where there is a possibility of someone performing unethical conduct?

Sure, most will not be as serious as what is going on at Penn State, but this will set a standard if the NCAA comes down on the Nittany Lions. They will have to investigate every little issue.

The NCAA should likely wait until this case makes it through the court systems. There is little that can come out of it until there are some clear answers.

Even when there are, what will the NCAA do?

Penn State already fired their head coach and president. The athletic director for the school has stepped down. The university could clear house with the coaching staff following the season.

I suppose they could ban postseason play or take away scholarships. That just doesn't seem fair to the players, who will be the only ones suffering for something that happened almost 10 years ago.

Those who need to be the targets are already gone, so what is really the point?

Like I said before, the NCAA needs to investigate. However, it just seems wrong penalizing those who had nothing to do with the scandal. Those who needed to suffer penalties already have.