Former Lions Appeal NCAA Sanctions

Several Penn State football lettermen constitute the latest group attempting to challenge the NCAA's harsh penalties against the program.

Penn State may not be appealing the NCAA's harsh sanctions against the school's storied football program. But the appeals keep coming, just the same.

Tuesday, a group of former Nittany Lions who say they are acting “individually and as representatives of all former players and coaches who were part of the football program between the years 1998 and 2011,” sent a notice of intent to appeal to the NCAA.

The NCAA sanctions, handed down July 23, stem from Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The penalties include a postseason ban, a fine, a reduction of scholarships and the vacating of all of the football team's victories from 1998-2011.

By signing the consent decree, Penn State gave up the right to appeal the sanctions.

Former players asking for their appeal to be heard are Michael Robinson, now a fullback with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, Anthony Adams, Gerald Cadogan, Josh Gaines, Justin Kurpeikis, Anwar Phillips and Shamar Finney. Also named as part of the appeal is former PSU offensive line coach Bill Kenney.

They are the third group to appeal the sanctions, which were handed down via a consent decree signed by NCAA president Mark Emmert and Penn State president Rodney Erickson. The family of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was the first to appeal, and the NCAA quickly said it would not hear their case.

Monday, three new members of Penn State's Board of Trustees filed an appeal of their own.

Like the previous groups, the former players are taking issue with the consent decree, saying it prevented a full-blown NCAA investigation and, as such, due process. The NCAA admitted that it did not conduct its own investigation, and instead relied solely on the results of the Freeh Report, an investigation into Penn State's handling of the Sandusky scandal that was commissioned by the Board of Trustees.

“The Appellants challenge the factual findings and conclusions of the consent decree, and of the underlying investigative report by Sporkin & Sullivan (the 'Freeh Report'), which -- without notice, investigation or hearing as required -- provided the predication for the actions taken by the NCAA in this matter.”

The former players note that from 1998 through 2011, more than 350 men went through the program. They say the program's graduation rate during that time was 87 percent. The team won 112 games from 1998-2011.

They argue that since no players from that period were implicated in any wrongdoing with respect to the Sandusky scandal -- something the NCAA acknowledged -- that the vacating of 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 time period.”

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