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.