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Five Pennsylvania Congressmen Ask NCAA to Overturn Penn State Sanctions

by on July 28, 2014 1:44 PM

Five of the 18-member Pennsylvania congressional delegation asked the NCAA to overturn unprecedented sanctions leveled against Penn State University's football program.

In a July 24 letter addressed to NCAA President Mark Emmert, Congressmen Glenn "GT" Thompson, Charles Dent, Jim Gerlach, Michael Doyle and Mike Kelly ask the NCAA to rescind the sanctions issued against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The sanctions, which the university agreed to through a 2012 consent decree, included a reduction in football scholarships, a four-year ban on bowl appearances, and the vacating of 111 wins under head coach Joe Paterno. The university must also pay a $60 million fine, which the NCAA says will be used for child abuse awareness and prevention.

"Under your leadership, continuing these unprecedented sanctions harms innocent student-athletes and further erodes the increasingly specious credibility of the organization," the politicians write. "By limiting scholarships and imposing a financial burden on Penn State, the NCAA has failed to live up to is mission statement."

Specifically, the congressmen argue the NCAA should withdraw the sanctions in light of the April 9 ruling by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Judge Anne E. Covey, which said, in part, "high school student athletes who had no involvement in the criminal acts were prevented from obtaining a free college education."

Additionally, the congressmen argue the $60 million fine creates a burden for the entire university, not just the football program.

"The impact of these sanctions directly contradicts your organization's supposed goal of promoting education for student-athletes," the letter states. "The continued enforcement of these questionable sanctions only harms innocent student-athletes who had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky's unspeakable crimes."

Penn State hired Louis Freeh, former FBI director, to investigate the scandal. The Freeh Report found significant wrongdoing on the part of the university.

Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach who is now a convicted pedophile, committed some of the crimes on Penn State's campus. Three former Penn State administrators are awaiting trial for allegations they tried to cover up the scandal. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

NCAA Spokesperson Stacey Osborn said Monday the organization had not yet received the letter and did not have any comment.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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