The leaders, the report said, "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from authorities, the university's board of trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large."
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
Emmert had warned Penn State last fall that the NCAA would be examining the "exercise of institutional control" within the athletic department, and said it was clear that "deceitful and dishonest behavior" could be considered a violation of ethics rules. So, too, could a failure to exhibit moral values or adhere to ethics guidelines.
The Freeh report also said school had "decentralized and uneven" oversight of compliance issues — laws, regulations, policies and procedures — as required by the NCAA.
Recent major scandals, such as improper payments to the family of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush while he was at Southern California, and players at Ohio State trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos, have resulted in bowl bans and the loss of scholarships.
Current NCAA rules limit the so-called "death penalty" to colleges already on probation that commit another major violation. That was the case when SMU had its program suspended in the mid-80s, the last time the punishment was imposed on a major college football program.
NCAA leaders have indicated in recent months they are willing to return to harsher penalties for the worst offenses.
"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like (what) happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with. This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal," Emmert told PBS recently. "It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case because it's really an unprecedented problem."
Another question was whether Penn State — and, by extension, Paterno, major college football's winningest coach — would have any of his victories thrown out. Paterno won 409 games for the school in his 46 seasons as head coach.
As Penn State awaited its fate, construction workers removed the larger-than-life monument of its Hall of Fame coach. The Paterno family released a statement criticizing Penn State's decision to remove the statue, saying it was made in haste and before all the facts about Paterno's role in the Sandusky scandal were known.
The bronze statue, weighing more than 900 pounds, was erected in 2001 in honor of Paterno's record-setting 324th Division I coaching victory and his "contributions to the university." Penn State President Rodney Erickson said he decided the sculpture had to come down because it "has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing."
Associated Press writers Marc Levy and Michael Rubinkam in State College, Pa., Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh and Ron Todt in Philadelphia and AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report.
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