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National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Ethics Program and Sexual Abuse Scandals

Academic institutions have a range of responsibilities to meet to ensure that they meet the needs and secure the rights of students, protection against sexual abuse is one of the foundational responsibilities. Given the vulnerability of the target demographic, academic authorities at universities must ensure that all educators adhere to the set ethical standards, as well as that compliance with these standards is supervised rigidly. However, due to several dents in the ethical frameworks of some academic organizations, instances of abuse occur tragically often, the case of the US National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA’s) ethics program failure being one of the most notorious instances (Epstein, 2018). By revisiting the current ethical standards, principles of workplace responsibility, and levels of compliance with the set standards, academic institutions will be able to reduce the threat of the described scenarios repeating themselves in the future.

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Scandals Description

2011 Penn State Scandal

The case of Penn State involved the abuse of sexual nature that students experienced at the hands of the assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. The latter had been assaulting students sexually until one of the learners managed to disclose the specified information to authorities. Remarkably, Penn State University did not make any effort in bringing public attention to the issue; quite the contrary, the organization preferred to sweep the specified occurrence under the rug, thus placing the lives and well-being of every student in severe jeopardy. To make the situation even worse, one of the accused attempted at suing the organization for allegedly false accusations (Brown et al., 2015). However, even though the case of Joe Palermo, the plaintiff, was entirely ridiculous from any perspective, the very fact that he tried manipulating the truth indicates that there is a severe problem of ethical standards promotion within the contemporary academic setting.

2010 Ohio State

Although being significantly less dramatic and harmful than abuse, cheating remains on the list of cases representing a breach of university ethics. Therefore, the 2010 Ohio State case of male students having been banned from playing sports at the Ohio University serves as an essential case worth covering as an example of people’s rights and freedoms being protected. Namely, the case describes a scenario in which the team has managed to win several times running, which implied that it qualified for the Sugar Bowl. However, on further analysis of the team and its performance, it was disclosed that the players accepted benefits from inappropriate sources (Thamel, 2010). Implying a severe breach of academic and sports ethics, the described gesture misaligns with every provision of the NCAA ethics guide.

2014 Alaska Fairbanks

Even though the previous two cases have produced drastic results on the reputability and functioning of the NCAA, it has still been continuing to provide legal services. However, the next case indicated that NCAA has serious problems in identifying and addressing the cases of fraud. In 2014, the Alaska Fairfax team of basketball players recruited team members that had not passed the eligibility test (US National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2014). As a result, the outcomes of the match had to be rendered null and void, whereas the team members were deprived of their rewards.

Although the NCAA has a rather effective framework for keeping the levels of student safety high, the organization has failed miserably in the described instances of severe ethics violations. In retrospect, the outlined disaster could be explained by the absence of an effective reporting system.


Although the reputation of the NCAA as far as the supervision the levels of compliance with et ethical standards in academic institutions have dropped dramatically, there is a way for the organization to regain the trust of its stakeholders. To achieve this goal, NCAA will have to revisit its existing ethical standards and especially the communication framework and the feedback system of reporting the instances of criminal activities or the breach of ethics in the academic context. Thus, NCAA will be able to respond timely to the cases that require urgent action.

Another step that NCAA will need to take is reinforcing the principles of social responsibility among its members, as well as across academic institutions in the environment of Indianapolis, as well as within the U.S., on a larger scale. As a result, the organization will create a team of experts who will help the organization to remain thoroughly informed about any situations that may involve a breach of ethics.

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However, even with the actions listed above, the threat of criminal activity and the failure to meet the ethical criteria established by the NCAA will still be persistent in the target academic context. Therefore, measures for curbing the states of threat to students’ safety and security will have to be applied, Specifically, the organization will have to establish functioning communication channels with universities. Hus, the cases of students’ rights abuse will be reported accordingly, and respective measures will be applied to manage the situations that can be described as questionable from an ethical perspective.

Another measure to be deployed to reduce the threat of a violation of students’ rights and especially their right to safety, the opportunity to participate in the recruitment process ad, thus, monitor the process of assigning specific roles and responsibilities to particular educators should be deployed. Namely, the NCAA may have to create a committee that will control the recruitment process, as well as the process of distributing roles and responsibilities among teachers. As a result, the situations in which a specific person causes severe suspicion may be located, thus terminating the further development of a dangerous scenario and subjecting the suspect to appropriate scrutiny.

Although the measures outlined above are not the only possible solutions, they presently embody the key methods of addressing gaps in NCAA’s security and risk management framework. Thus, when implementing the specified measures in the context of an academic setting, one will be capable of controlling any further developments and creating a safer setting. Overall, the creation of the committee that will investigate the relevant concerns and ethical breaches may be time-consuming, yet it will make deviating from ethical standards and bending moral principles excessively difficult for potential perpetrators.


Due to the failure to introduce an appropriate monitoring system that would have allowed locating the cases of deviation from the established ethical standards, the universities in question have allowed atrocious cases of breach of ethics and foundational human rights to take place. Thus, the cases under analysis signify that the creation of an effective monitoring system is central to the provision of safety and security within the confinements of an academic establishment. Moreover, the situations observed at the specified academic institutions outline the need to promote responsible attitudes among the teaching staff so that they could report the cases that they deem as suspicious or potentially harmful to students. As a result, the scenarios such as the ones observed at Penn State, Ohio State, and the University of Alaska will be avoided in the future.


Brown, N. A., Brown, K. A., & Billings, A. C. (2015). “May no act of ours bring shame” fan-enacted crisis communication surrounding the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Communication & Sport, 3(3), 288-311.

Epstein, A. (2018). The NCAA and whistleblowers: 30-40 years of wrongdoing and college sport and possible solutions. Southern Law Journal, 28(1), 65-84.

Thamel, P. (2010). Ohio State players, including Pryor, suspended for five games in 2011. New York Times. Web.

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US National Collegiate Athletic Association. (2014). Alaska Fairbanks failed to monitor its athletics program. Web.

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