Formal Appeal of NCAA Sanctions Filed by Joe Paterno Family

By Kris Hughes

If you’re like me, I’m sure you read the title of this article and thought:


That’s the best possible question:  How can the Paterno family file a formal appeal of sanctions delivered against an NCAA institution for which one of their family members once worked, but with whom they essentially have no other ties?

According to reports, the appeal was filed by the Paterno family’s lawyers because Joe Paterno was mentioned in both the consent decree signed by Penn State University in acceptance of the punishment promised them by the NCAA and in the infamous Freeh Report which outlined in detail the allegations of a system-wide cover up of the actions of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

One has to figure that the appeal will not have much leverage behind it regardless of whether it is the family’s notion they have the right to file it because of Joe Paterno’s former status.

If Penn State University has not filed any appeal as an institution, why in the world would a stand-alone appeal filed by a party on behalf of a deceased individual have any merit?

I’m no lawyer, but it just doesn’t pass the eye test.

Regardless, if you’re interested in the context of the appeal, here it is:

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of my clients, the Paterno family, who are the living representatives of Joseph V. Paterno and his estate, we file this notice of intent to appeal the NCAA’s consent decree entered against The Pennsylvania State University.  Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, the Paterno Family notes that the consent decree was publicly released on July 23, 2012.  Pursuant to NCAA Bylaws 32.1.5 and, Mr. Paterno qualifies as an involved individual because he is named in the NCAA’s consent decree as well as the Freeh report, which provided the alleged factual basis for the consent decree.

Finally, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, the Paterno family requests the opportunity to submit its appeal in writing, and it requests an in-person oral argument before the Infractions Appeals Committee.

The estate undertakes this appeal to redress the enormous damage done to Penn State, the State College community, former, current and future student and student athletes, Joe Paterno and certain others involved, as a result of the unprecedented actions taken by the NCAA.

As will become evident in a thorough and impartial review, the NCAA acted hastily and without any regard for due process. Furthermore, the NCAA and Penn State’s Board Chair and President entirely ignored the fact that the Freeh Report, on which these extraordinary penalties are based, is deeply flawed because it is incomplete, rife with unsupported opinions and unquestionably one-sided.   The NCAA and Penn State’s leadership, by accepting and adopting the conclusions of the Freeh report, have maligned all of the above without soliciting contrary opinions or challenging a single finding of the Freeh report. Given the extraordinary penalty handed out, prudence and justice require that scrupulous adherence to due process be observed and not completely ignored.

Both the University leadership and the NCAA have said that they had to take extreme and immediate measures to demonstrate respect for the victims and minimize the chance of any similar misconduct from occurring again.  These goals are the right ones, and they embody objectives we fully endorse.  But those objectives cannot be achieved by a truncated process that wrongly assigns blame by substituting opinion for fact.

If there is culpabability in this case, a hearing will help expose it.  Due process will not hide the truth and will only illuminate the facts and allow for thoughtful, substantiated conclusions, not extreme and unfounded opinions, such as those offered in the Freeh Report and relied upon by the NCAA.

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.  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.

Accordingly, we submit this appeal in pursuit, finally, of due process.  A fair hearing on the merits is in the interests of justice and fairness for all involved.

We look forward to your acknowledgement of receipt of this timely appeal.  In your acknowledgement, we would appreciate confirmation of the exact date triggering the 30-day period for us to submit a written response in support of our appeal.


J. Sedwick Sollers III

From Onward State.

Let’s all hope this appeal is shot down post haste and Penn State University can be allowed to do what it has been trying to do:

Rebuild and move forward.

Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.

Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.

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