The NCAA is facing more political pressure to lessen its unprecedented sanctions against Penn State.
The Associated Press reports that Pennsylvania congressmen Charles Dent and Glenn Thompson co-authored a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking that the 40 football scholarships taken away from the Nittany Lions be restored. The scholarship reductions were part of the heavy sanctions Emmert levied against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Dent and Thompson argued in the letter that the loss of scholarships only deny opportunities and do nothing to punish those associated with the scandal.
"I want to make it clear to the NCAA who they are really hurting with this scholarship reduction," Dent said in the letter. "It’s not Jerry Sandusky and it’s not the University. They are hurting young people who are completely innocent of anything relating to the Sandusky situation and who through no fault of their own are being denied a chance to get a great education.”
This latest action comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who is seeking to overturn the NCAA sanctions. And, of course, the NCAA is under fire for how it botched the Miami investigation, announcing last week that an enforcement officer acted improperly and forcing the organization to investigate itself. The NCAA might not look too popular in many courtrooms these days.
Will any of these things wind up lessening Penn State's burden? It's very difficult to say. We must note that the school itself is not a part of these proceedings and agreed not to appeal when university leaders signed the consent decree accepting the penalties. So this is entirely externally driven, and there's no doubt that politics are playing a major role here.
Emmert seized unprecedented power to levy the sanctions against the Nittany Lions, so it's hard to see him giving in now. Then again, his power may be fading after a series of missteps. We've never seen anything like the penalties handed out to Penn State before. Who's to say we won't be surprised again in this case?