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Lawmakers want NCAA to drop Penn State scholarship reductions

Mark Emmert AP

As part of the historic and unprecedented sanctions levied on the Penn State football program last summer, the Nittany Lions were stripped of dozens of scholarships over a period of four years by the NCAA.  The cap on the total number of scholarship players during that four-year period was set at 65 — the FBS maximum is 85 — which down the road will prove to be the most damaging of punitive measures that included a $60 million fine and four-year bowl ban.

With that in mind, a pair of Pennsylvania lawmakers are calling on the NCAA to restore those scholarships to the football program.

In a letter sent Monday to president Mark Emmert, Reps. Richard Dent and Glenn Thompson claimed that, the Associated Press writes, “taking away up to 40 scholarships harmed players who had nothing to do with the scandal.”  Furthermore, “Dent and Thompson wrote that denying student-athletes access to higher education does nothing to account for Sandusky’s crimes.”

This development is the latest from state officials looking to have the sanctions either eased or outright tossed completely.  In early January, Pa. Governor Tom Corbett announced that an antitrust lawsuit had been filed against the NCAA in an effort to have all sanctions reversed.

“The NCAA and [president] Mark Emmert seized upon the opportunity for publicity for their own benefit,” Corbett said at the time. “These sanctions are an attack on past, present and future students of Penn State, the citizens of our commonwealth and our economy.”

Saying they were “disappointed by the Governor’s action,” the NCAA has previously shown no willingness to even discuss a reduction in Penn State’s penalties.

However, that could change given one recent development.  In the middle of last week, Emmert took the unheard of step of publicly acknowledging that the NCAA had “uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation.”

That led some to opine that the NCAA may be open to “discussing” the action taken against Penn State in order to avoid further embarrassment in a federal court.  Whether that will ultimately be the case remains to be seen.

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31 Responses to “Lawmakers want NCAA to drop Penn State scholarship reductions”
  1. blitz4848 says: Jan 28, 2013 5:00 PM

    Why continue to punish Penn State fans and alums???? Almost all the higher ups that turned a blind eye have been fired, facing trial, or in jail!!

    Give them the scholies back and don’t destroy their athletic program because old, out of touch power brokers who only cared about their own well being failed in their responsibilities!!!!!

    I am NOT a PSU fan nor even a Big 10 fan but I AM a fan of fairness and this punishment was levied against the wrong people!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. mshassen2015 says: Jan 28, 2013 5:04 PM

    I think thats this is totally wrong, I am not a fan of psu or the big ten.. punish the guys involved not the team..Anyone who knew anything about it and did nothing should be gone..

  3. mgavin78 says: Jan 28, 2013 5:12 PM

    No punish PSU… They should have got the Death penalty. Kids were being raped and the ppl in charge did nothing. Don’t forget what happened to the kids. The players had the choice to leave the school and they stayed knowing what was going to happen.

  4. kozbee says: Jan 28, 2013 5:18 PM

    Lawmakers have no say in the scholarships being taken away imo stick to creating and screwing up laws and leave alone what belongs to the NCAA.We dont need goverment running our schools programs.Look at our country,do we need them screwing up our school programs also.Lawmakers go mind your own damn business.

  5. raysfan1 says: Jan 28, 2013 5:27 PM

    Reducing scholarship numbers does not hurt high school kids who might have gone to PSU. Those students who would qualify for a full ride at PSU will still qualify for one at another university. What it hurts is the strength of the PSU football program, and that is the intended effect. It would not be happening, either, had university leadership not covered up the wrong doings of a pedophile in order to protect the image of that very football program.

  6. goodfieldnohit says: Jan 28, 2013 5:30 PM

    Penn State should have gotten 14 years worth of Death Penalty.

  7. MasMacho says: Jan 28, 2013 5:37 PM

    Sure… let’s let this sit for a year, and maybe everyone will forget how terrible this was, that our institution was apparently criminally negligent in its handling of a reported child molester.

    Maybe after this all blows over people will remember how much they love Penn State football and cut us some slack because their Saturdays are marginally less entertaining than they used to be.

    Sorry PSU. To ask for a reduction in penalties is only proof that you STILL don’t understand that the failure of your leadership is partly responsible for what transpired on your campus.

    This is disgusting and sad.

  8. mauldawg says: Jan 28, 2013 5:58 PM

    PSU got off easy. If it was up to me all sports would have been closed down for 20 years,maybe longer.

  9. floridacock says: Jan 28, 2013 6:02 PM

    @blitz4848
    Spot on except ALL of the higher ups and coaches whom know anything are gone. They are only punishing the innocent and a name. Not a fan of PSU, but the corrupt NCAA needs to lighten up and point a finger at themselves.

  10. ironman721 says: Jan 28, 2013 6:51 PM

    The State of Pennsylvania’s case was not all that strong before but now they have some serious ammunition with the Miami disaster. This will be bigger than O.J. if it goes to trial. Unless the NCAA can get an unconditional victory, they will come out looking like the pathetic joke they have always been. They can’t even bust Miami who violated text book NCAA rules, how can they possibly think they can hammer a school that they admitted had not violated actual rules. No matter how this plays out the NCAA will never come out blast a school as a PR ploy with out an investigation ever again. This will be interesting to watch to say the least.

  11. cometkazie says: Jan 28, 2013 7:08 PM

    MasMacho says:
    Jan 28, 2013 5:37 PM

    (snip for brevity)

    Sorry PSU. To ask for a reduction in penalties is only proof that you STILL don’t understand that the failure of your leadership is partly responsible for what transpired on your campus.

    This is disgusting and sad.
    +-+-+
    Can we say PSU has a short attention span?

    PSU is getting punished. What don’t you understand?

  12. normtide says: Jan 28, 2013 7:54 PM

    This punishes innocent players- almost all sanctions punishes innocent players. The sanctions always come 2 years after the infractions. And like a previous post said, any player could leave, and future players can go elsewhere. This punishes a program that allowed major child abuse to happen, just to protect the football program.

    To me, the shocking part is the fact that PSU supporters are more angry over sanctions then the fact that child molestation was condoned. I once held these fans in high esteem. They reflect the PSU admin’s priorities concerning child welfare and football. A very sad state of affairs.

    PSU’s punishment was light in my opinion, and the opinion of most.

  13. phillyfanmatt says: Jan 28, 2013 8:19 PM

    Did you not read the article. PSU had not asked for a reduction in penalties. The university does not back the governors law suit. And 2 law makers not the university had asked for a reduction.

  14. dhlions says: Jan 28, 2013 9:55 PM

    I never thought I’d see the day when someone with “Philly” in their name would be the voice of reason!!! :-D

    They’re right though, the only lawsuits at this point are from politicians, not anyone currently [directly] connected to the University.

    And @normtide, to say that the alumni base cares more about the football team than the victims seems a bit short sighted, especially since you know, uhhhh, this is a football site?

  15. normtide says: Jan 28, 2013 10:37 PM

    Dhlions- football does not trump child molestation, not even on a football blog.

  16. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 28, 2013 10:44 PM

    Normtide makes a great point. And you do as well dhlions.

    Fact of the matter is – we have reduced the rape of several young men to arguing about football scholarships.

    If it were my decision – PSU’s stadium and facilities would be a home for abused children and their football budget would be donated annually to anti-abuse organizations.

    I find it disappointingly tragic that those boys lost innocence has been lost in the cacophony since these events came to light. To think that these young men had their innocence stolen by someone they looked to as an authority figure…only to have their violation ignored by adults in which their safety was entrusted to…is, quite frankly, a goddamned shame.

    To attempt to make this about anything else makes one the equivalent of a an accomplice to the crimes committed against those boys.

  17. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 28, 2013 10:47 PM

    @ phillyfan

    I haven’t seen anything from PSU publicly disavowing the lawmakers movement. If anything such as this exists, please do direct us to that information.

  18. sparky151 says: Jan 28, 2013 10:54 PM

    The lawmakers are right of course. Sandusky’s crimes should be punished by the courts, not the NCAA which decided to grandstand in the matter. Sandusky’s victims were children, not other NCAA member institutions who compete with PSU. The would-be football players for Penn State will get offers to play elsewhere, bumping players from those programs and so on down the line til the NCAA sanctions land on some kid in DII.

  19. Deb says: Jan 28, 2013 11:10 PM

    As a rule, I don’t believe in the Death Penalty or in punishing institutions and future students for what is usually the actions of a few long-gone coaches, players, and boosters to improve the fortunes of a football team.

    In this case, we’re looking at a complete moral failure of institutional leaders to protect the community’s most vulnerable citizens from a marauding monster. Why? Not to improve the fortunes of the football team, but simply to avoid inconveniencing the football hierarchy. This team should have gotten the Death Penalty. The ongoing protests about the football equivalent of a slap on the wrist indicate that virtually no one connected with this insitution understands on any level the wrong that occurred here, the trivial reasons for leaving this monster on the loose for more than a decade, or the damage suffered by these children.

    Apparently the only way to teach the lesson would be to wipe the program from the face of the earth like Sodom and Gomorrah.

  20. normtide says: Jan 28, 2013 11:26 PM

    I am not saying the schools fans should not be loyal. This is the time the program needs you most. But, there is a difference in support and denial. I have made the points all along.

    1- PSU has a coach who is willing and able to get you through this, if others around the uni will shut up and get on board.

    2- If by some slim chance you win in court of law, you would lose in the court of public opinion. How do you expect the coaches to talk to recruits parents about accountability and values if the school skirts punishment?

    3- Imo, PSU fans should see it as an honorable endeavor to see this through. A travesty occurred, and see the sanctions as a way to ensure this never happens again. There is honor in righting wrongs. Make a statement that they will never stand for such evil.

  21. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 28, 2013 11:35 PM

    @ Deb and Norm

    Well said – it’s unfortunate that 6 + months later the “football first and institution be protected at all costs” mentality appears to continue to prevail amongst the (most vocal) PSU faithful.

    I do hope I am wrong. I for one would love to eat crow if that currently mute PSU crowd were to “rise up” and stand for something more than what the (what I dearly hope to be) vocal minority says PSU crowd condones…victory at all costs – including a child’s lost innocence.

  22. dhlions says: Jan 29, 2013 7:44 AM

    You mean like raising half a million dollars for RAINN? Because that happened.

    Keep in mind that in the age of the internet and “everything now,” the response from PSU and the Alumni base will seem slow. But just because something hasn’t happened “yet” doesn’t mean it will happen “never.”

  23. canesgiants says: Jan 29, 2013 10:03 AM

    i love it when they lawmakers/or fans say–u are only hurting the innocent these kids had nothing todo with it. welcome to the world of punishment in college football-there are hardly any times when the people committing the violations get punished(exvcept for miami), its always the kids years downt that face the punishment.

  24. thetooloftools says: Jan 29, 2013 10:13 AM

    Penn State fans cannot wrap their minds around the fact that THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM was involved in covering up the molesting of young boys. They act like the buildings on fire and they are yelling “keep moving, everything is fine, nothing to see here”.
    I would have shut THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM down for 5 years for it’s sins that Joe Paterno enabled.
    So you let them off the hook and they don’t miss playing one football game (which is what they were hoping for)and they want scholarships reinstated? They are so arrogent and have learned nothing and show zero remose or shame. They are just flat out sick people.

  25. MasMacho says: Jan 29, 2013 10:22 AM

    It is so sad to read the PSU supporter comments rationalizing what has happened. PSU is a STATE SCHOOL. It is funded by those very people asking the NCAA to conveniently forget the tragedy that took place. The tragedy that was known, but went unaddressed for so many years.

    This request is obviously about football revenue. I’m sure that the legislators in the state of PA are facing a budget problem, would prefer to fund Penn State to a lesser degree than it must in order to sustain it while in this turmoil, and are seeking solutions to reduce that cost.

    Sad, that in the worst of times we can do nothing but argue over money.

  26. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 29, 2013 10:54 AM

    (1.) PSU received sanctions from the NCAA over the “Lack of Institutional Control” rationale. The sanctions were based on the PSU duly appointed Freeh Report which PSU turned over to the NCAA. PSU BoT and the University president approved and signed off on the agreement with the NCAA of the sanctions and the penalties incurred.,

    (2.) Governor Corbett chose to file in Federal Court rather than State Court because the lawsuit is now in his Office, rather than in the State AG’s office, who happens to be a Democrat., and finally

    (3.) Lawmakers grandstand. This is what is happening here. If I’m the President of the NCAA, I write to PSU and tell them that in light of political actions taken on their behalf in their State government AND PSU condoning such actions, the previous agreement is voided and a full fledge investigation of the PSU Administration, BoT, and Athletic Department will begin immediately. You would hear phones ring off the wall saying “We had a deal!”. An investigation will not be pretty and it will implicate many more people than it has to this point, perhaps even to Harrisburg.

    I believe PSU doesn’t want any more negative press on a chapter people thought was closed.

  27. cometkazie says: Jan 29, 2013 11:18 AM

    amosalanzostagg says:
    Jan 29, 2013 10:54 AM

    Thanks again for putting it so succinctly.

  28. chm111 says: Jan 29, 2013 2:36 PM

    The sanctions WILL get reduced once Curly, Schultz, and Spanier are all found not guilty.
    The state has already offered them plea deals…and they said shove it.

    PSU will still contribute $60 mill to fight child abuse.

  29. ags8th says: Jan 29, 2013 3:30 PM

    If you’re the Emmert at the NCAA, you’re really stuck here.

    He can continue to make the argument that 1) the PSU case warranted the NCAA to circumvent the Committee on Infractions or 2) he knew the investigation committee was fraught with improper behavior and was not to be trusted.

    My best guess is the NCAA will restore the scholarships and PSU will continue payment of the $60M.

    Personally, I believe the NCAA overstepped it’s charter by becoming involved in the issue, and only did because public perception if they had not would have been overwhelmingly negative given the publicity of the Sandusky case.

    By using the Freeh report as justifying cause and not performing their own investigation, they were able to avoid the quandary of potentially having the infractions committee recommend no punishment due to lack of jurisdiction. Additionally, by not penalizing the ENTIRE athletics department and singling out the football program, they diminished the whole “lack of institutional” control argument.

  30. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 30, 2013 10:52 PM

    Look, the NCAA guidelines and bylaws in which Penn
    State is a signatory school is the governing body for Intercollegiate athletics. The NCAA had no choice in the sanctioning of Penn State based on

    (1.) The inherent “Lack of Institutional Control” exhibited by Senior Administration officials at the highest levels in the University and in the Athletic
    Department on an ongoing basis over an extended period of time.

    (2.) The NCAA did not have to accept the Penn State Univerisity Freeh Report findings. The NCAA chose to accept the report at the request of the University President and the PSU BoT. In doing so, PSU agreed to whatever penalties and sanctions the governing body would issue. Remember there was premature talk of a “Death Penalty” against PSU.

    This is where PSU was extremely smart in specific
    regards to the 24 hour sports news cycle. By accepting the NCAA penalties and sanctions, PSU
    was able to galvanize there base to support the University and it’s beleaguered football program.
    A legend had just died, a new coach was coming on board. You have no idea if the program will even be able to survive. You still don’t to this day.

    By accepting the sanctions and penalties without mental reservation unconditionally, PSU has gone through one year of penalties and if they can keep
    competing in the B1G, they will be fine.

    On the contrary, do you really think that a protracted, ongoing NCAA investigation of the PSU
    Athletic Department would not have uncovered addition areas of concern that would have kept the Sandusky scandal on the sport pages for years?

    PennState has a fighting chance now, I think that is all Penn State wants at this point.

  31. raidergreg2000 says: Feb 6, 2013 3:36 PM

    Penn State sucks!

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