Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Former Nittany Lions critical of NCAA sanctions, seek repeal

A group of former Penn State football players is appealing the NCAA sanctions against the university, saying the association didn’t follow its own policies and denied the right of those affected to be heard.

The appeal is the latest action taken by those involved with the university but unhappy with President Rodney Erickson’s decision to sign off on the NCAA sanctions.

One trustee filed a notice of appeal Monday that others are a part of, and the family of Joe Paterno filed a similar notice last week.

The former players say in their letter to the NCAA that they’re acting on behalf of all players and coaches who were part of the football program between 1998 and 2011 — the years the NCAA vacated the Nittany Lions’ wins.

The former players filing the notice are: Michael Robinson, Anwar Phillips, Josh Gaines, Shamar Finney, Richard Gardner, Gerald Cadogan, Anthony Adams and Justin Kurpeikis. Bill Kenney, assistant coach from 1998 to 2011, is also party to the appeal.

As with the notice of intent to appeal filed by trustees Monday, the letter from the former players points to NCAA bylaws as grounds for their appeal.

It also faults the NCAA for relying on the Louis Freeh report, which came to the conclusion that Paterno and three former top administrators had actively worked to cover up child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky.

Evidence doesn’t support many of the findings of the Freeh report or the NCAA conclusions that came from it, the players’ letter says, including the  “determination that at Penn State the ‘football program was held in higher esteem than the values of the institution, the values of the NCAA, the values of higher education, and most disturbingly the values of human decency.’”

“By these unsupported findings, the (a)ppellants have been forever branded as somehow contributing to a ‘culture’ on campus that enabled these unlawful acts against children to continue,” the players’ filing said. “Meaning no disrespect to the victims of abuse, these findings are unfair and they are wrong.”

The filing goes on to say that the sanctions “inflict permanent damage to an entire generation of student-athletes and coaches who were innocent of any wrongdoing during their time on campus while placing a unwarranted blemish on an institution that, by the NCAA’s own acknowledgement, ‘has never before had NCAA major violations.’ ”

A Penn State spokesman declined to comment.

An NCAA spokesman has said that the Penn State sanctions aren’t subject to appeal. He said Tuesday that hasn’t changed.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy