Essay Sample Analyzing the Ethical Violation Cases

Published: 2022-06-02
Essay Sample Analyzing the Ethical Violation Cases
Type of paper:  Case study
Categories:  Business ethics
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1266 words
11 min read

Ethical Scandals Cases

Penn State

The scandal at Penn State emerged in 2011 when there was an allegation that the former assistant coach at the state sexually assaulted at least eight young boys for a long time. According to investigations, the first case of sexual assault was reported to the University's police and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business in 1998. Nevertheless, the institution never investigated the allegations due to lack of evidence. Also, a similar incident occurred in 2001 when a graduate assistant reported to Joe Paterno, the head coach, of a sexual assault incident he had witnessed on a young boy. Similarly, the campus officials did not report the incident to the police even after the head coach notified them (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2015).

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Ohio State

At Ohio State, the scandal emerged in 2010 when five players from the football team were suspended for violating the rule of receiving benefits from people. The football players used the gear of the football team in exchange for cash and tattoos. For nine months, the head coach Jim Tressel was aware of the violations but failed to report it to the school (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2015).

University of Arkansas

At the University of Arkansas, the scandal emerged in 2012 when the head coach Bobby Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident. Investigations of the accident revealed that Bobby was not riding alone at the time of the accident. He was with Jessica Dorrel, a former student-athlete development coordinator. Because Jessica was hired as a state employee, Petrino was obliged to report that he had a personal relationship with her due to the conflict of interest. Besides that, further investigations revealed that Petrino showered Dorrell with gifts that amounted to $20,000 (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2015).

Principle Ways the Leadership of the NCAA Contributed to the Ethical Violations of

Penn State

At Penn State, the NCAA contributed to the ethical violations because they failed to communicate the rules and guidelines to its stakeholders effectively. Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell (2015) indicate that even though head coach Joe Paterno had worked for the department for more than 60 years, he still had a reliance on old standards, which led to the violation of ethical standards. The NCAA should have enforced change by organizing training programs where their staff can adopt the change. Essentially, the NCAA was negligent because they assumed that the head coach was competent in ensuring that there were no violations of the rules and regulations of the football team's practice.

Ohio State

At Ohio State, the NCAA contributed to the ethical violations because they failed to impose apt rules regarding the withholding of information from school administrators. The school administration has to be vigilant when it comes to overseeing the conduct of students, which includes players in the football team. If the NCAA had proper and comprehensive guidelines that school administrators followed, then the latter would have been keen on knowing what the Jim Tressel and the football team were doing. Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell (2015) indicates that for nine months, the head coach was aware that football players received gifts from the public, but decided to cover up the violation and hide it from the school administration. Apparently, if the NCAA had enacted strict guidelines, the ethical violation would not have taken place.

University of Arkansas

At the University of Arkansas, the NCAA contributed to the ethical violations because they failed to communicate to their coaches about their reporting requirements. According to Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell (2015), Petrino had an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell, which he failed to disclose to the University considering Dorrell was obliged to report directly to Petrino. After the accident, the case reveals that Petrino wanted to keep the information secret. If the NCAA would have communicated their reporting requirements to their staff, Petrino would have put his job in jeopardy and he would have disclosed the information about the accident.

Key Differences in the in the Scenario that Occurred at Penn State, Ohio State and University of Arkansas if an effective ethics program was in place

If an effective ethics program was in place, the result of each scandal at the three universities would have been different. In a study on the effectiveness of ethics program by Kaptein (2014), unethical behavior is less rampant in organizations that have an ethics program compared to those that do not have one. At Penn State, since there was not just one case of sexual assault, the University should have ratified a compulsory reporting policy for any transgression on a criminal level to prevent any victims of sexual assault.

At Ohio State, the University should create awareness to all coaches and players regarding the code of ethics and penalties for any violations. Through that, neither coaches nor players would say that they were unaware of the policies put in place.

At the University of Arkansas, the University should clarify their policies regarding the hiring of state employees. The clarification would have prevented any conflict of interest among the staff at the university.


According to Frankel & Alexander (2015), the NCAA's goal is to restructure itself in a way that would make it effective and efficient. Apparently, that would involve gaining the trust and confidence of stakeholders. 3p Contributor (2011) notes that when the NCAA building trust and confidence provides value for all stakeholders. Two actions that the NCAA leadership should take to regain the trust and confidence of students and stakeholders are the following,

Give more emphasis on ethics - the NCAA should emphasize the importance of ethics through effective communication. Through that, both students and stakeholders will recognize their situation when it comes to maintaining ethical conduct. Also, they ought to broadcast messages that depict zero tolerance for anyone who will be in violation of the ethical standards.

Require every stakeholder to sign a code of ethics - under that code, the NCAA should emphasize that stakeholders are required to obey the rules and regulations or face punishment. The code of ethics will guide the employees on how they should behave in the institution. Also, the code will act as a reference to students and stakeholders in a way that if they misunderstand anything regarding the rules, they can manage to locate the relevant documents.


Two measures that the human resource department of colleges and universities should take to prevent similar incidences from occurring in the future are the following,

Create policies and practices - the department has to research, develop, and document all policies and procedures that involve defining, identifying, and reporting any ethical violations. The policies and procedures should be articulated fully to all stakeholders. Also, those who have concerns about ethical issues should be protected in the policies and procedures.

Develop stakeholder's understanding - the department has to come up with a viable process of reporting all ethical violations. More so, they have to build all stakeholders' understanding of the ethical expectations of the particular college or university. Also, to develop their comprehension fully, the HR department has to make stakeholders understand the severity of not following the rules put in place in those institutions.


3p Contributor. (2011). Building the Case for Building Trust: A Historical and Current Perspective. Triple Pundit. Retrieved from

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2015). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (10th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Frankel, J. S., & Alexander, N. (2015). Pumped-Up Governance: Lessons from The NCAA's Restructuring. Associations Now. Retrieved from

Kaptein, M. (2014). The Effectiveness of Ethics Programs: The Role of Scope, Composition, and Sequence. Journal of Business Ethics 132(2).

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