More than 325 former Penn State football players and coaches spanning six decades are voicing their support for a May 30 lawsuit aimed at ending the NCAA sanctions against the university in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
In a letter sent Monday by letterman Brian Masella, the players and coaches have signed a statement backing the lawsuit that wants a judge to void the sanctions that include a $60 million fine, a bowl ban and scholarship reductions.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs include the family of the late Joe Paterno as well as some trustees, faculty members, former coaches and former players. They say the NCAA ignored its own rules when it levied the penalties against Penn State after former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation.
“Joe Paterno and the entire Penn State football program have been used as scapegoats in this horrible tragedy,” Masella said in the letter. “When the NCAA neglected to conduct their own investigation, and used the flawed Freeh Report as the judge and jury, they further prevented an opportunity to get to the real truth, and in turn, punished a generation of Penn State players, students, and supporters who had nothing whatsoever to do with Jerry Sandusky.”
The names of supporters include Todd Blackledge, O.J. McDuffie, Kerry Collins, Franco Harris and Paul Posluszny.
Below is the statement from the Penn State players and coaches:
“On May 30, 2013, twenty people — including five Penn State Trustees, four faculty members, two former coaches, and nine former student-athletes, filed a lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State.
“On the same day, the plaintiffs sent the former Penn State football players a letter explaining their rationale for taking legal action. The letter notes that the plaintiffs intend to fight for Penn State’s honor and that they hope the former student-athletes “will be supportive of these efforts”.
“We, the undersigned, indeed support the plaintiffs’ action in launching their suit.
“Like them, we reject the NCAA’s assertion that a ‘culture of reverence for the football program’ allowed Jerry Sandusky’s crimes to occur. We agree with the plaintiffs that the Freeh Report, which formed the foundation for the sanctions — was fundamentally flawed.
“We stand with our nine brother Lettermen and the other eleven Penn Staters in demanding ‘fairness, due process, truth, and a just outcome.’ Everyone — Sandusky’s victims, Penn Staters, and the public at large — deserves to know the complete truth.”