When you first heard about the allegations made against former Penn St. Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, you probably wanted somebody, anybody to do something about them. The whole problem is that nobody did anything about Sandusky's alleged crimes for a long time, and now Happy Valley has been torn apart trying to figure out who exactly has to do something.
The federal government is inserting itself, the Board of Trustees did what Joe Paterno wasn't willing to do, and Sandusky, along with AD Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, is going to court.
But since this involves sports, many people have called for the NCAA to do something, too. As Boston College sports law professor Warren Zola tells the New York Daily News, the NCAA doesn't really have jurisdiction here:
No student-athletes are involved, for now, and nothing benefitted the teams of the institution for a competitive advantage. You and I may have a different interpretation on lack of institutional control, but under the NCAA's, I don't see it. The only thing I could see, if convicted, would be placing a ban on individual coaches.
Penn State, the school, is being investigated by the Department of Education. Everyone who failed to take the allegation against Sandusky to an authority (if you accept that Curley wasn't really Paterno's authority) has been fired or arrested. The current players, future players, and remaining coaches didn't do anything wrong, and thus shouldn't be punished.
What would be the punishment, anyway? A postseason ban and loss of scholarships? For how long? If Boise State lost scholarships for years over some cheeseburgers, what's the multiplier the NCAA should use to figure out what covering up 40 counts of child sex abuse is worth?
We could say the NCAA should shut down Penn State football, but that's not really how the NCAA works. The NCAA can dictate how Penn State makes money off of football and which teams it plays, but it has no control over what Penn State chooses to do with Beaver Stadium.