Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 7/22/12

Earlier today, we at Crystal Ball Run wrote on Penn State’s official decision to take down Joe Paterno’s statue on campus. Now, we may know what was behind the timing of the decision, as well as the haste with which the statue was brought down.

The reason? Well, according to a report by CBS News, the NCAA has called a press conference for early Monday morning, where they will apparently levy severe and “unprecedented” penalties upon the school.

From CBS News:

CBS News has learned that the NCAA will announce what a high-ranking association source called "unprecedented" penalties against both the Penn State University football team and the school.

"I've never seen anything like it," the source told correspondent Armen Keteyian.

NCAA President Mark Emmert will make the announcement Monday morning at 9 a.m. at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis.

Already, speculation has run rampant on what the penalties may be. They could range from something minor like a TV ban, bowl ban or scholarship reductions, but from the sound of things, they appear to be much more serious. In a worst case scenario, the entire program could be shut down and not allowed to play the 2012 season and potentially beyond. In NCAA terms, that’s known as the “Death Penalty.”

The decision by the NCAA of course comes in light of the recently released Freeh Report, an independent investigation of the school, football program and former coach Joe Paterno, conducted by former Director of the FBI Louis Freeh. The report was damning, implicating Paterno and three other high-ranking Penn State officials of covering up the crimes of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of sex abuse against minors, with Paterno, former school President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley aware of the crimes as early as 1998.

And since then, the debate has raged as to if the NCAA should get involved with the punishment of the school.

For many, the thought of NCAA jurisdiction in a case that involved such serious criminal affairs seemed laughable; after all, this isn’t about a high-profile football coach lying to the NCAA about actual NCAA matters (like Jim Tressel), but about several high-ranking officials covering up some of the most heinous criminal matters imaginable. With that in mind, why would the NCAA get involved? What good does removing scholarships or taking away bowl games do here? Isn’t it almost insulting to the victims to equate on the field football matters (scholarships, bowl bans etc.) with the crimes that were committed against them? And that doesn’t even factor in the idea that all the culprits in the crimes and cover-up are either in jail (Sandusky) awaiting trial (Spanier, Schultz and Curley) or dead (Paterno).

Again, there is a difference between a football matter and a criminal matter, and for many observers, this is way outside the NCAA’s jurisdiction.

Then again, there are others who felt like the NCAA had to do something.

While this wasn’t a football matter per se, it did have to do with one of the most iconic coaches and programs in the sport. Many also believe that the absolute power that Paterno and the football program held at Penn State was what allowed Sandusky to get away with his crimes for as long as he did. Would this have happened if football wasn’t the biggest entity at the school, and Paterno the most powerful man? It’s tough to say. It’s also tough to argue that it played a major part.

These were the questions that had been asked, and apparently on Sunday we got our answer. If the CBS report holds correct, the hammer is coming down at Penn State.

And it could be a long time, if ever before they recover.

For all his opinion, insight and analysis on college football and beyond, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

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