The NCAA rejected an appeal request of its sanctions against Penn State University by the family of former legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
"Penn State's sanctions are not subject to appeal," NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Friday of unparalleled penalties levied against Penn State, its football program and Paterno, who died in January, for their lack of action prior to Jerry Sandusky being arrested and then convicted on child sex abuse charges.
Paterno’s family, through a letter from their attorney, called for the NCAA to hold an "open hearing" before its Infractions Appeals Committee, according to ESPN. On July 23, Penn State officials accepted the sanctions, which include a record $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, momentous scholarship losses, five years' probation and the vacating of 111 wins by Paterno from 1998 through 2011.
"This matter may be the most important disciplinary action in the history of the NCAA, and it has been handled in a fundamentally inappropriate and unprecedented manner," Wick Sollers, a Paterno family lawyer, wrote in the letter sent Friday afternoon to the NCAA's Infractions Appeal Committee. "To severely punish a University and its community and to condemn a great educator, philanthropist and coach without any public review or hearing is unfair on its face and a violation of NCAA guidelines."
In the letter, obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Sollers disputes the college sports governing body’s decision to shelve its customary infractions committee procedures by accepting the findings of the Louis Freeh report. The report, commissioned by Penn State, is seriously flawed, the family has repeatedly said since it was released in July.
Under the NCAA bylaws, an “involved individual” has the right to appeal. Since the Freeh report and the sanctions both name Paterno, the family believes it has that right, Sollers said.
With the NCAA board and executive committee, including president Mark Emmert, acting alone there was no official investigation. And you can’t appeal something that didn’t technically happen.
“It's hard to articulate this well. It's not a normal case,” Jo Potuto, former NCAA infractions committee chairman, told CBSSports.com.
CBSSports.com also reported the family’s next steps could include a suit against Penn State. The family is answering questions on the matter, however.
Another lingering question is why Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant when he witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a child in the shower area of the football locker room and didn’t report it for 24 hours, wasn’t personally sanctioned by the NCAA.