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Paterno family attempts to appeal NCAA sanctions against Penn State

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Scott (left) and Jay (right) Paterno (AP)

The family of Joe Paterno continues to want their say in what happens to Penn State athletics.

The family on Friday sent a letter to the NCAA demanding a repeal of the sanctions that were handed down on July 23. Included in those sanctions was a $60 million fine, loss of scholarships and a four-year postseason ban. Oh, and the vacating of 111 wins by Paterno from 1998 through 2011.

In the letter, the family asks for an "oral argument" with the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee to discuss the sanctions.

"As will become evident in a thorough and impartial review, the NCAA acted hastily and without any regard for due process," Wick Sollers, a Paterno family lawyer wrote in the letter. "Furthermore, the NCAA and NCAA board chair and president entirely ignored the fact that the Freeh report, in which these extraordinary penalties that these are based, is deeply flawed because it is incomplete, rife with unsupported opinion and unquestionably one-sided."

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Sue Paterno (US Presswire)

Sollers argues that the NCAA bypassed its usual infractions committee proceedings and acted based on the Freeh report, which spent 267 pages chronicling the improprieties at Penn State. The Paterno family has already condemned the report and said it would conduct its own investigation.

"This matter may be the most important disciplinary action in the history of the NCAA, and it has been handled in a fundamentally inappropriate and unprecedented manner," Sollers writes. "To severely punish a University and its community and to condemn a great educator, philanthropist and coach without any public review or hearing is unfair on its face and a violation of NCAA guidelines."

Unfortunately for the Paterno family, their letter might fall on deaf ears since Penn State already accepted the sanctions. But Sollers' point is that because the NCAA and the Freeh Report both cite Paterno, the family is entitled due process in an attempt to clear his name.

"If there is culpability in this case, a hearing will help expose it," Sollers writes. "As will become evident in a thorough and impartial review, the NCAA acted hastily and without any regard for due process. Furthermore, the NCAA and Penn State's Board Chair and President entirely ignored the fact that the Freeh Report, on which these extraordinary penalties are based, is deeply flawed because it is incomplete, rife with unsupported opinions and unquestionably one-sided.

"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. Given the extraordinary penalty handed out, prudence and justice require that scrupulous adherence to due process be observed and not completely ignored."

The family will now wait to see if they will be granted an appeal hearing. If they are denied that hearing, they could bring legal action against the NCAA.

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