The list of organizations lining up to mete out justice to Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal now has another member. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is in charge of accrediting degree-granting colleges in Penn State's region, has notified the university that it is once again going to be under investigation, this time to prove it should remain accredited.
With the Freeh Report and sanctions the school accepted from the NCAA, Penn State has admitted its leaders suffered a massive lack of proper organizational oversight that allowed a tragedy to occur. "Massive lack of proper organizational oversight" is a type of phrase that perks up ears at an accrediting body, and thus, it issued the school a warning:
"It is critical to emphasize that Middle States does not issue a warning unless the commission believes that an institution has the capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period and then sustain itself to stay in compliance," Blannie Bowen, vice provost for academic affairs, said in a press release. "This certainly is true for Penn State. We're confident that our monitoring report and the site visit will confirm this to the commission."
Penn State will have to file a report with the commission, which will be followed by a team from the commission visiting the school. If there are still red flags, the commission would be able to put Penn State on probation and submit a show-cause why they should keep accreditation.
Of course, Penn State losing accreditation would be absolutely massive. A degree from a non-accredited college is vastly less valuable than one from an accredited one -- losing accreditation basically means a group of people decided a school isn't fit to hand out degrees -- so the academic reputation would plummet, probably causing many students to leave and a major loss of funding. And since this is a sports website, it's worth pointing out that the NCAA would probably take note of that, and it's reasonable to believe Penn State wouldn't be participating in Division I sports for much longer after that happened.
However, it doesn't seem as if that will happen: Penn State has made massive overhauls since the Sandusky scandal broke and has multiple chances to prove that. It seems unlikely that the school will fail all of them and lose its accreditation. After so many public shamings and sanctions, this seems like a test Penn State will pass.