2 Pa. congressmen ask NCAA to end Penn State scholarship reductions

mmorgan@centredaily.comJanuary 29, 2013 

The NCAA is now facing more pressure from lawmakers to lessen the blow of its sanctions against the Penn State football team.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, co-signed a letter with Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, asking the NCAA to reconsider the Penn State football team’s 40 scholarship reduction as part of the sanctions that were levied against the university in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and the release of the Louis Freeh report.

Thompson, who publicly opposed all the sanctions, said the scholarship penalty is particularly irksome because it may deny young men the chance to get a college education.

“It was a terrible situation that occurred, but the punished student-athletes had nothing to do with this,” he said.

The sanctions also included a four-year bowl ban, the loss of more than 100 wins and a $60 million fine.

This is the third letter that Thompson has co-signed and sent to the NCAA. The first two involved keeping the $60 million fine in Pennsylvania.

Thompson said, based on the previous correspondence with the organization, that the letter most likely won’t sway it, but it’s something he hopes the NCAA takes seriously.

“I would hope that the NCAA would revisit this with an open mind and rely on more information than just the Freeh investigation and do their job — do their investigation the way they are supposed to.”

The one-and-a-half-page letter said the congressmen were “dismayed” by the NCAA’s decision to deny 40 potential students the access to higher education.

Dent said in a news release that the NCAA is hurting students.

“They are hurting young people who are completely innocent of anything relating to the Sandusky situation and who through no fault of their own are being denied a chance to get a great education,” he said in the release.

The congressmen also cited Penn State’s historically high graduation rates as a reason why the penalty should be lifted.

This letter comes just weeks after Gov. Tom Corbett filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA asking all the sanctions to be removed, and Thompson said he supports that decision.

There are no more plans for future correspondence with the NCAA, but it’s something Thompson said he will continue to look at as time goes on.

Also Monday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously advanced to the full Senate a measure sponsored by panel chairman Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, that would require the $60 million in fines assessed on Penn State by the NCAA to remain in the state. A full Senate debate and vote could occur as early as Wednesday.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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