As damaging as the Freeh report is to Penn State in many areas, one expert on compliance issues does not believe it will lead to NCAA sanctions for the football program.
"As bad as this is, I just think it would be inappropriate for [the NCAA] to take any action," Ohio University assistant professor and NCAA rules expert David Ridpath said Thursday.
It's not about the severity of the mistakes made by Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, but more about the purpose of NCAA rules and bylaws themselves.
"NCAA rules really don't address anything like this, although they tend to sometimes make up rules as they go along," Ridpath said before later adding, "NCAA rules are predicated upon a level playing field, competitive equity, recruiting eligibility [and] financial aid being the cornerstones of that."
Criminal issues, such as this one with the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, don't really fall under NCAA jurisdiction, Ridpath said.
Had there been evidence in the Freeh report of Paterno or other PSU officials making decisions that would have directly benefited football players or the program, then Ridpath believes the NCAA could step in. The report, however, did not include such incidents.
There is the aspect of institutional control, but the NCAA has never issued major sanctions to a school for violating only that wide-ranging rule.
That doesn't mean, however, that the NCAA cannot set a precedent in this case and make an example of Penn State with a harsh punishment.
"I just don't think that the NCAA is going to dive into this because there have been other criminal issues [at universities that were not punished]," Ridpath said.
If the NCAA punishes Penn State, Ridpath added, it would be setting a precedent that it would have to punish other schools in the future if criminal activities were to take place.
"If they don't [punish other schools], then they'll look more hypocritical than they do quite often," Ridpath said.
"The NCAA does not, in my opinion, really do a great job policing the rules that they have already. ... I really don't want to see them attempt to get into criminal matters," he added.
The NCAA has been monitoring the Penn State scandal since it broke in November, and Thursday the governing body issued the following statement:
"Like everyone else, we are reviewing the final report for the first time today. As President [Mark] Emmert wrote in his November 17th letter to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and reiterated this week, the university has four key questions, concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics policies, to which it now needs to respond.
"Penn State's response to the letter will inform our next steps, including whether or not to take further action. We expect Penn State's continued cooperation in our examination of these issues."
The next steps for Penn State, Ridpath said, will be to prepare a lengthy response to NCAA officials and to try and prove that the university has taken the proper measures to bring about change in the wake of the scandal.
"I think they're also going to spend a lot of time saying, as [PSU President] Rodney Erickson has said, 'We're moving forward, we've made changes, we've taken these corrective actions.'
"And if you look at that from clearly an NCAA view, that does actually mitigate potential punishment or sanctions if you actually show that you've taken meaningful corrective actions. And I think that in this case, Penn State could demonstrate that."
NCAA leaders have indicated in recent months they are willing to use harsher penalties for the worst offenses. That includes postseason and TV bans, which haven't been used extensively since the 1980s.
Ohio State is banned from playing in a bowl game this season as a result of the failure to monitor charge that followed coach Jim Tressel's admission that he knew several of his star players were trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos in violation of NCAA rules and did not report it. The Buckeyes also vacated the 2010 season and were hit with NCAA probation and a loss of scholarships. Southern California was banned from the postseason for two years and stripped of 30 scholarships following the Reggie Bush scandal.
Still pending before the NCAA is the Miami case involving booster Nevin Shapiro.
The Associated Press contributed to this story