Three years after the Jerry Sandusky arrest and Joe Paterno’s ousting as Penn State’s head coach, and two years after the historic sanctions levied against the university by the NCAA, 16 congressmen from Pennsylvania have taken a stance against the college sports organization.
The legislators, with leadership from Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township and Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert calling for accountability.
The letter came in the wake of a press release from the NCAA last week designed to “set the record straight” with regard to recent disclosures in court cases related to the Endowment Act, the Pennsylvania law that would require the $60 million fine imposed on the university to stay in the state.
Those disclosures included emails from members of the NCAA that suggested Penn State was bluffed into accepting the punishment.
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“This release included selected descriptions of events by NCAA officials and provides little context to what actually happened,” the letter said. “Instead of selectively releasing documents in an attempt to cast your organization in a favorable light, we urge you to immediately release all documents related to the consent decree.”
The letter went as far as urging the repeal of remaining sanctions.
The university originally was penalized with a four-year bowl ban, five-year suspension, restriction of scholarships and the striking of 111 games from the football program’s victory column.
In September, with the release of the latest report from independent overseer George Mitchell, the NCAA gave back the bowl game possibility, something Penn State secured with Saturday’s win against Temple. Scholarships also were returned.
At this point, for many Penn State supporters the sticking point is the victories. A “409” rally focused on the total number of wins that Paterno had when he was fired, making him the winningest coach in college football, was held last month, with fans signing huge numbers that were then sent to the NCAA as a petition.
“We urge you to remove all remaining sanctions immediately,” the congressmen wrote.
Another area of concern for them was the appearance of collaboration between the NCAA and the Freeh Group, which conducted the independent review that investigated the university.
“A full release would provide all possible clarity to the public, something that is sorely needed at this time,” the letter said.
“The NCAA would be wise to act in a transparent manner and put all the cards on the table, before they continue to dig a bigger hole for themselves,” Thompson said in a statement. “It is important for the public to know the full rationale behind the NCAA creating a new jurisdiction for themselves, and equally so, why they would collaborate with a supposedly impartial and independent investigation.”
Other representatives who signed the letter are Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg; Jim Gerlach, R-Chester Springs; Michael Doyle, D-Forest Hills; Mike Kelly, R-Butler; Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton; Tom Marino, R-Williamsport; Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township; Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley; Joseph Pitts, R-Kennett Square; Robert Brady, D-Philadelphia; Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic; Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Levittown; Patrick Meehan, R-Drexel Hill; and Chakah Fattah, D-Philadelphia.
The only two members of the Pennsylvania delegation who didn’t sign the letter were Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Allyson Schwartz, D-Jenkintown.
In addition to Emmert, the letter was sent to state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state Treasurer Rob McCord.