Eight former Penn State University football players and one former assistant coach today announced their own appeal of the NCAA sanctions against the school, saying removal of football wins from 1998 to 2011 unfairly tarnished those not involved in the campus child sex scandal.
The nine individuals, all involved in the program during those years, include among others Michael Robinson, former Penn State quarterback and now a fullback with the Seattle Seahawks.
A letter to the NCAA filed on their behalf says 375 individuals played or coached for Penn State between 1998 and last year. It says the NCAA vacated wins during those years as part of its sanctions, despite findings in a consent decree that no student athletes were responsible for events involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Vacating the wins "is unreasonable, excessive, unprecedented and constitutes an indignity to the men who honorably fulfilled their responsibilities as student athletes and coaches at Penn State under Coach Joe Paterno during this period," stated the letter written by their attorneys, a copy of which was obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Taking back the wins those years effectively also stripped Mr. Paterno, who died in January of lung cancer at age 85, of his status as the nation's winningest major college football coach.
A school trustee and Mr. Paterno's family and estate previously notified the NCAA that they too intend to appeal.
In addition to Mr. Robinson, others named in today's filing as appellants and the years they were involved in the football program are Anwar Phillips (2001-05); Josh Gaines (2004-08); Shamar Finney (1998-02); Richard Gardner (1999-03); Gerald Cadogan (2004-08); Anthony Adams (1998-02) Justin Kurpeikis (1996-00) and William "Bill" Kenney (assistant coach 1988-2011)
The NCAA, which has said the sanctions are not subject to appeal, was not immediately available for comment on today's filing. David La Torre, a Penn State spokesman, said the school had no comment.
The NCAA sanctions also included deep cuts in Penn State's football scholarships, a postseason bowl ban and a $60 million fine.