BY GINA G. SCALA
In State College, Pa., the NCAA’s clarification of transfer rules for Penn State University football players is just another part of the bad news cycle that’s hung over the community since the news of Jerry Sandusky’s arrest broke in November 2011.
On Tuesday, the NCAA offered an explanation of the transfer rules as applied to current Penn State football players and stemming from the severe sanctions against Penn State due to its lack of handling in the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The clarification allows universities and colleges without sanctions of their own to seek additional scholarships to recruit Penn State players for the 2012 season only, according to the NCAA. Coaches from other schools are also allowed to actively recruit Penn State players until school starts on Aug. 27.
“The NCAA recognizes that current football student athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "We want to allow those eligible student athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place."
Under the relaxed regulations, players are immediately eligible to play for their new teams rather than red shirting the first year. That would normally be acceptable only if the player transfers to a lower division.
The one caveat, according to the NCAA, is that players can’t practice or play games with Penn State from now through the beginning of the 2013 season. Players will be allowed to practice with their new teams throughout the application process. Incoming freshmen are to be released from their national letter of intent, too.
Penn State students and alumni reacted harshly to the sanctions on Tuesday, one day after the NCAA publicly addressed the penalties and the unprecedented case; and two days after the university removed a statute of legendary former football coach Joe Paterno.
If the Sports Illustrated article saying more than 30 football players are more than happy to stay where they are, despite the sanctions, remains true; the NCAA may end up on the losing side.
Football players are well aware remaining at Penn State would automatically disqualify them from playing in a bowl game during their college careers, according to Sports Illustrated.
"We want to let the nation know that we're proud of who we are," senior Michael Zordich said Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported. "We're the true Penn Staters, and we're going to stick together through this. We're going to see this thing through, and we're going to do everything we can for the university. We know it's not going to be easy, but we know what we're made of."