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Former Penn State players announce their intention to appeal sanctions

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Yet another group is petitioning the NCAA to reconsider its harsh sanctions against Penn State.

Eight former players, led by former quarterback Michael Robinson, have notified the NCAA through their attorney Paul V. Kelly that they plan to appeal the sanctions that were leveled against the university last month, which included a four-year bowl ban, loss of scholarships and the vacating of wins from 1998-2011. All of the players involved in the petition played for Penn State during the vacated years.

The eight players are the third group to alert the NCAA of its intent to appeal. The Paterno Family kicked things off last Friday and two trustees said Monday they also intended to appeal the sanctions.

The NCAA has said the sanctions are not subject to appeal, which could open the NCAA up to a lawsuit.

The eight players are challenging the findings of the Freeh Report and saying the NCAA did not give Penn State its due process because it did  not conduct its own investigation and did not go through the Committee on Infractions to determine punishment. It's also questioning whether the consent decree Penn State president Rodney Erickson signed without consenting the entire Board of Trustees was valid.

"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 predicate for the actions taken by the NCAA in this matter."

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Similar to the Paternos' claim, the letter from the eight players states that the findings in the Freeh Report are "clearly erroneous and not supported by the evidence." The Freeh Report claimed a major cover-up by the university, which included coach Joe Paterno, of the child sexual abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Consequently, NCAA President Mark Emmert felt compelled to heap sanctions on Penn State for displaying a lack of institutional control. It was an unprecedented move by the NCAA, which had never gotten involved in a case that dealt with breaking laws and not NCAA rules. Emmert's swift action, which also allowed all Penn State players to transfer without penalty, came under immediate criticism even though Erickson and subsequently the Penn State football team accepted it. Erickson said he saw no choice but to accept the punishment with the threat of an NCAA "death penalty" looming over the university's head.

The Paterno family already has stated it plans to do its own investigation into whether a cover-up actually occurred.

"By these unsupported findings, the Appellants have been forever branded as somehow contributing to a 'culture' on campus that enabled these unlawful acts against children to continue. Meaning no disrespect to the victims of abuse, these findings are unfair and they are wrong," the letter from the eight players read.

Robinson, who is currently with the Seattle Seahawks, played at Penn State from 2001-05. Other players named in the letter included ex-assistant coach Bill Kenney and former players Anwar Phillips (2001-05), Josh Gaines (2004-08), Shamar Finney (1998-2002), Richard Gardner (1999-2003), Gerald Cadogan (2004-08), Anthony Adams (1998-2002) and Justin Kurpeikis (1996-2000).

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