Dr. Saturday

Report: Penn State trustees plan to ask for an appeal of NCAA sanctions

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Looks like Joe Paterno's family members aren't the only ones who think the NCAA wronged Penn State.

ESPN.com is reporting that at least two Penn State Board of Trustees members intend to file an appeal with the NCAA on Monday stating that the governing body did not give Penn State due process when it decided on its unprecedented sanctions.

NCAA president Mark Emmert announced harsh sanctions against Penn State without going through the process of a hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Penn State was hit with a loss of scholarships, a four-year postseason ban, a $60 million fine and probation. The university also had to vacate wins from 1998 through 2011.

Penn State University president Rodney Erickson agreed to the sanctions, but the trustees are questioning whether he had the legal authority to do so. Erickson did not bring the entire board together for a vote and instead consulted with Board of Trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz and university counsel before accepting the punishment.

Like the Paterno family, who announced its request for an NCAA appeal hearing last Friday, the trustees are hoping to have their day in court with the NCAA Committee on Infractions and be able to state their case as to why the sanctions should either be overturned or lessened. However, the two board members do not expect the NCAA to except the appeal, which will give them — and the Paterno family — grounds to file a federal lawsuit to have the sanctions rescinded by a federal judge.

My question is this, and I'd appreciate anyone with a legal background to shed some light here: Couldn't the Committee on Infractions hear the case and still hand down the same sanctions? Also, with the NCAA being a club — voluntary to join — don't they have the ability to hand down sanctions at their discretion? Again, just asking, not saying it's right or wrong.

And, if the sanctions are overturned or delayed, what happens to the players who transferred? Do they have to go back to Penn State? Sit out a year like normal transfers? This could create quite a crazy situation for several teams around the country.

On the flip side, the NCAA ventured into uncharted waters by getting involved in a case that was more about breaking laws than NCAA rules. They had to expect some sort of repercussions for their involvement. And it's no surprise that those who support Penn State aren't going down without a fight. These are crippling sanctions that could do irreparable damage for years.

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