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Commission Says Penn State's Accreditation Is 'In Jeopardy'

Penn State during the football team's media day in State College, Pa., on Thursday.
Gene J. Puskar
Penn State during the football team's media day in State College, Pa., on Thursday.

The commission in charge of accrediting universities in the Mid-Atlantic region has warned Penn State that if it doesn't make changes in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, it could lose its accreditation.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education put the university "on warning," the AP reports, saying that it wants a report on how the university is complying with integrity standards.

"This action has nothing to do with the quality of education our students receive," Blannie Bowen, Penn State's vice provost for academic affairs, told The Patriot-News. "Middle States is focusing on governance, integrity and financial issues related to information in the Freeh Report and other items related to our current situation."

The AP adds:

"The commission also wants the report to address the university's ability to bear financial obligations stemming from "the investigation and related settlements, etc." It said "a small team visit" will be made, a standard practice "to verify institutional status and progress."

"Penn State officials on Monday expressed confidence that they would be able to address all concerns expressed by the commission.

"University president Rodney Erickson said that the commission 'wants us to document that steps we have already taken and are planning to take will ensure our full compliance with its requirements.' He said he was also confident that officials would be able to 'fully demonstrate our financial stability.'"

USA Today explains that a school must remain accredited in order to keep federal funds and remain a member of the NCAA.

"In a definition included in its public disclosure statement regarding Penn State, the commission states that when it warns a school, 'It believes that, although the institution is out of compliance (with the commission's accreditation standards), the institution has the capacity both to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period and to sustain itself in the long term,'" USA Today reports.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.