Congressmen urge NCAA to lift Penn State sanctions

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The NCAA, already targeted by two lawsuits for its sanctions against Penn State, is now under scrutiny from five Pennsylvania members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills), Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh), Mike Kelly (R-Butler), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard) and Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) signed a letter dated July 24 to NCAA president Mark Emmert, asking him to rescind the remaining sanctions against Penn State, citing harm to student-athletes.

“The impact of these sanctions directly contradicts your organization’s supposed goal of promoting education for student-athletes,” the letter said.

The letter cites the majority opinion of Judge Anne Covey from the Corman vs. NCAA lawsuit. In that opinion, Covey wrote that a fine of $10 million was too burdensome and would cause harm to the entire institution, rather than just the football team. She questioned the validity of the consent decree, which allowed the NCAA to bypass its standard protocol for its sanctions against Penn State.

“I have been openly critical and condemning of the actions of the Penn State administration and the way they dealt or didn’t deal with this — I’ve been clear about that,” Doyle said. “This has nothing to do with the actions of those individuals. This has to do with students who weren’t even Penn State students that are now being denied scholarships, and that’s really what this speaks to.”

In 2012, the NCAA sanctioned Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal by fining the university $60 million, banning the football team from bowl games for four years, taking away 10 scholarships per year for four years and removing all of the football team’s victories from 1998 to 2011. The sanctions were revised last fall when the NCAA reduced the scholarship portion of the sanctions, taking away only five for this most recent season and restoring them to the full allotment starting next year.

George Mitchell, the independent monitor of Penn State’s athletics integrity agreement with the NCAA, said last year that more sanctions could be reduced this fall after his latest annual report. Penn State coach James Franklin said today in Chicago that he hasn’t paid much attention to the possibility of sanction reduction or to the Congressmen’s letter.

“It’s been very little time thinking or talking about those things because I don’t want to be disappointed,” he said. “I don’t want our players to be disappointed.”

State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, sued the NCAA in early 2013, seeking for the fine money to be deposited only into state charities. The suit was upheld this spring and could go to trial in January.

The Paterno family and several current and former trustees, former football coaches and players, and current and former professors sued the NCAA last summer. They are seeking an injunction of the sanctions. The suit is currently in the discovery phase.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here or explore it below.

Mark Dent:, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.

First Published July 28, 2014 12:00 AM

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