Paterno family to appeal sanctions

Joe Paterno had dozens of wins vacated.
Joe Paterno had dozens of wins vacated.

A lawyer notified the NCAA of the intent to challenge actions taken against Penn State and its football program.

Posted: August 05, 2012

The family of Joe Paterno notified the NCAA on Friday of its intent to appeal major sanctions imposed on Pennsylvania State University last week by the regulatory body resulting from the Jerry Sandusky case.

In a letter to NCAA president Mark A. Emmert, a copy of which was obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, family lawyer Wick Sollers notified the NCAA of the Paternos' intent to challenge the sanctions and a consent decree entered into by Penn State.

Sollers said that the NCAA "acted hastily and without any regard for due process," and that the university's trustee chair and president ignored what the attorney said were deep flaws in the report on which the sanctions were based.

"The estate undertakes this appeal to redress the enormous damage done to Penn State, the State College community, former, current and future student(s) and student athletes, Joe Paterno and certain others involved, as a result of the unprecedented actions taken by the NCAA," Sollers wrote.

He said the NCAA and Penn State's leadership, "by accepting and adopting the conclusions of the Freeh report, have maligned all of the above without soliciting contrary opinions or challenging a single finding of the Freeh report."

The Paterno family wants to file its appeal in writing and requests an in-person oral argument before the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, the executive committee, the Division I board of directors, and/or other appropriate audiences within the intercollegiate sports governing body, Sollers said.

But the Associated Press is reporting that the NCAA quickly rejected their plan. "The Penn State sanctions are not subject to appeal," spokesman Bob Williams said.

A jury in June convicted Sandusky, 68, on 45 counts of sexual abuse of children. Some of the acts occurred on Penn State's campus.

A school-commissioned investigative report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his firm found that Paterno and top campus administrators, including former president Graham B. Spanier, were involved in withholding from law enforcement for years allegations of child sex abuse by Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State.

Two weeks after that report was released, the NCAA imposed sanctions against the university including a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason football play, and a sharp reduction in football scholarships.

The NCAA also vacated all wins by Penn State's football team dating from 1998, effectively stripping Paterno of his status as the nation's winningest major-college football coach.

Penn State spokesman David La Torre said the university had no comment on the Paterno family's notice of appeal. Reaction from the NCAA was not immediately available.

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