Well, we almost got out of the week without hearing from the Paterno family. Oh so close, but oh so far. This time the Paterno family is formally going after the NCAA.
According to Onward State, lawyers representing the Paterno family sent an official appeal letter to the NCAA offices responding to the sanctions handed to Penn State's football program last week. The appeal requests 30 days to submit a written response to support their appeal, which means there is more to come.
The NCAA sanctions aganst Penn State included a $60 million fine to help start an endowment for victims of child abuse, a four-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships. The sanctiosn also stripped Penn State of 111 victories dating back to 1998, the year of the first Sandusky incident on record. That includes a pair of Big Ten championships and multiple bowl victories, as well as moving Paterno from the Division 1 record win total of 409 wins down to below 300 career victories.
The letter sent to the NCAA challenges the consent decree, which was signed by Penn State president Rodney Erickson, a document that remains highly conroversial after not being acknowledged to exist to members of the Board of Trustees. The document allowed the NCAA to essentially issue any punishment they wanted without having a challenge of appeal issued by the university itself.
According to the letter from the Paterno family to the NCAA…
Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, the Paterno Family notes that the consent decree was publicly released on July 23, 2012. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaws 32.1.5 and 188.8.131.52, Mr. Paterno qualifies as an involved individual because he is named in the NCAA’s consent decree as well as the Freeh report, which provided the alleged factual basis for the consent decree. Finally, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, the Paterno family requests the opportunity to submit its appeal in writing, and it requests an in-person oral argument before the Infractions Appeals Committee.
I am no legal expert, but I was told on Twitter (everything is true there, of course) that if the NCAA should reject the request for an appeal hearing, the Paterno family could use it as grounds to open up a legal case against the NCAA. I can't say if that is true or not, so perhaps one of our legal-minded readers can fill in the analysis in the comments below.
More from the letter…
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's lack of regular due process has been highly questioned by many nationally, but Penn State seemed very willing (at least Erickson did) to accept the penalties as a result of the Freeh Report. All indicaitions are that he was aware of the severity before hand.
Here is an interesting part of the letter…
Both the University leadership and the NCAA have said that they had to take extreme and immediate measures to demonstrate respect for the victims and minimize the chance of any similar misconduct from occurring again. These goals are the right ones, and they embody objectives we fully endorse. But those objectives cannot be achieved by a truncated process that wrongly assigns blame by substituting opinion for fact.
The Paterno family endorsed taking swift action, but again suggests that it was done irresponsibly. But then we get back to the real point of the Paterno family stance, it would seem, and that is the legacy of Joe Paterno…
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. 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.
You almost had me there Paterno family, thinking you were doing this for the good of the university and community. Instead you are clinging to the image of Joe Paterno we'd all like to think actually exists. Hey, maybe they will be proven right some day, and I hope they are. If this is a measure that will help fill in some of the holes the Freeh Report admitedly has, then so be it.
time will tell how this all plays out of course. We are bound to find out more information during the court trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz (and I would suppose at some point Graham Spanier). Hopefully these men with nothing to lose will have nothing but positive information to say about Paterno. Hopefully the NCAA will give this letter some serious consideration.
We all want more answers, don't we? For the Paterno family's sake, I hope they find the ones they are looking for.
HT: Onward State