Legislators want NCAA to relieve sanctions

CHICAGO – Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania recently wrote a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert requesting his organization immediately rescind sanctions levied against Penn State and its football program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The letter, dated July 24, asks Emmert to “immediately restore all previously banned athletic scholarships and rescind the $60 million fine to stem further damage against students of The Pennsylvania State University.”

The letter goes on to state, “Continuing these unprecedented sanctions harms innocent student athletes and further erodes the increasingly specious credibility of the organization.”

The letter was signed by Rep. Charles W. Dent, R-15th District; Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-5th District; Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th District; Rep. Michael F. Doyle, D-14th District; and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3rd District.

The letter claims the NCAA “has failed to live up to its own mission statement” with the severe punishment that was handed down to Penn State in 2012.

“The impact of these sanctions directly contradicts your organization’s supposed goal of promoting education for student athletes,” the letter states.

Penn State football coach James Franklin had little to say Monday about the letter.

“I spend very little time thinking or talking about those things because I don’t want to be disappointed, I don’t want our players to be disappointed,” Franklin said at Big Ten media days.

One of the arguments presented in the letter is that the student-athletes currently affected by the sanctions had nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, and therefore should not be punished.

“It’s kind of a bad situation that we were put in,” PSU linebacker Mike Hull said. “We really didn’t have anything to do with it … and got some pretty harsh penalties.”

Penn State still has two years left on a four-year bowl ban. However, one or both of those years potentially could be lifted this fall if the school receives a positive recommendation by former Sen. George Mitchell, the independent monitor overseeing Penn State’s compliance with the sanctions.

Mitchell’s positive recommendation last year led to the NCAA reducing the sanction limiting football scholarships.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany was not aware of the letter from the congressmen when asked about it Monday. He said the conference has closely monitored Penn State’s handling of affairs after the scandal and added he’s pleased with the school’s response.

“I hope that the NCAA would look positively on any request that is suggested by George Mitchell,” Delany said.

If Emmert were to act on the request from the congressmen, Penn State would be eligible to play in a bowl game this season.

“It would be great,” said Hull, a senior. “I’ve been to two bowl games – I was very fortunate – and those were two of the best experiences of my life. It would be great to go back and end my career on a high note.”