A judge has granted former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s request to put on hold his defamation civil lawsuit against former FBI director, Louis Freeh. The judge issued the stay, citing the criminal charges that Spanier faces for an alleged cover-up of complaints about Jerry Sandusky. If Spanier were to testify in his civil case, his testimony could be used against him in the criminal case. Freeh was in charge of a report on the Sandusky matter for Penn State that was highly critical of Spanier, former head coach Joe Paterno and former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
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Lawyers for the NCAA tried to get a judge in Centre County to toss out a lawsuit aimed at overturning the unprecedented sanctions against Penn State University and its football program.
Members of the late coach Joe Paterno’s family, some Penn State trustees, faculty, former players and coaches brought the lawsuit earlier this year.
Gov. Tom Corbett tried to fight the sanctions in federal court. A judge dismissed his case.
The sanctions include a $60 million fine, reduced scholarships and vacating more than 100 wins while Joe Paterno was head coach.
Attorneys for the NCAA argue the plaintiffs have no standing to bring the case, saying they can’t prove the sanctions harmed them. Further, they argue the plaintiffs are misinterpreting the association’s rules and bylaws.
Lawyers for the Paternos and other plaintiffs say the NCAA should not have relied on the Freeh report in making its decision about what sanctions to impose.
PSU President Rodney Erickson signed a consent decree with the NCAA in an effort to avoid the so-called “death penalty” for the school’s football program.
After more than three hours of oral arguments Tuesday, the judge did not make a decision about whether the case will move forward. He did not indicate when he would issue his opinion.
Penn State Freshmen at York’s campus feel a stronger sense of Nittany Lion spirit in light of the NCAA’s decision to reduce penalties against the University.
Freshman, John Frederick, Jr. says, “It’s definitely a pride booster, that they’re allowed to do that now, makes it better.”
Frederick, of Dallastown, says the sanction rollback is reassuring.
“Allowing them to increase their scholarships is a good thing for not only students, but also for the community in general because that means more kids that might not have the opportunity to go to college, can now go to college because they can receive a football scholarship.”
Freshman, Jason Schott, says “The NCAA realizes it did wrong. I feel like they’re trying to recoup with what they did and make it right again.”
In addition to scholarship, Penn State York basketball player, Zach Harlem, says the athletic department’s $60 million fine should also be lifted.
In a press release, the NCAA says the team’s bowl ban could be reduced depending on the college’s continued progress.
We’re hearing from many people in the Penn State community who are relieved and the proudest they’ve been in the two years of scandal.
Penn State head football coach, Bill O’Brien says “It’s a fanastic conference, and it’s good to be getting back to a place where we’ll be on an even plaing field with the scholarship numbers.”
O’Brien won’t address specifics on how he plans to attack the new scholarship limits because he says he hasn’t had enough time to digest the news.
Governor Corbett says the news shows the NCAA is reacting to the important changes the University has undertaken.
But Penn State Trustee, Anthony Lubrano, says he’s a little disappointed because the decision is not enough.
Lubrano says, “I think for many of the Penn State community, the NCAA needs to go further. They need to announce to the world that they overstepped their authoirty. When they imposed their sanctions, it was clearly a criminal matter.”
Lubrano says he supports the ability for students to be a part of a school it once was.
“I’m pleased for the student athletes. Pleased that other young men will get a world class education at a world class institution,” says Lubrano.
In addition, Lubrano filed a lawsuit along with the Paterno family, seeking to have the NCAA’s Sandusky related sanctions lifted. He’s expected back in court in late October.
Penn State Board of Trustee Member Anthony Lubrano Talks About NCAA Punishment Reversal
Penn State officials react to NCAA modification of football sanctions:
Penn State officials are gratified by the decision of the NCAA Executive Committee to modify the scholarship limitations previously imposed on the University under the consent decree between the University and the NCAA. This action, announced today, taken in recognition of Penn State’s significant progress under and continued compliance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement, grants immediate relief from both the initial scholarship restrictions and overall team limit restrictions previously imposed on the University’s football program. This modification will restore a total of 65 scholarship opportunities for football student athletes wanting to attend Penn State.
Specifically, the amendment to the consent decree increases the limit on initial football scholarships from 15 to 20 for the 2014-2015 academic year, and from 15 to 25 for each of the next three seasons. In addition, the amendment increases the overall football team limit of 65 total scholarships to allow for 75 total scholarships in the 2014-2015 academic year, 80 total scholarships in the 2015-2016 academic year, and 85 total scholarships (the NCAA limit for football) for each of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years.
“The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “This news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions.”
Sen. Mitchell is the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State who published a report on Sept. 6 indicating that Penn State has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh recommendations and all of its annual obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The report includes Mitchell’s impartial external review of Penn State’s efforts to implement the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Under the AIA, the University was obligated to take all reasonable steps to implement the recommendations by Dec. 31, 2013. The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the AIA in August 2012 as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure that the University continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.
Erickson thanked Head Coach Bill O’Brien for his leadership during this critical time and for his dedication to his players and to the University through the past two difficult seasons. He also acknowledged the work of student athletes, both on the field and in the classroom.
“The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud,” Erickson said. “I would also like to thank the literally hundreds of University administrators, faculty, staff and students whose hard work over the past 15 months helped lay the groundwork not only for this action by the NCAA but, even more importantly, for a better Penn State.”
Big Ten statement on NCAA modification to Penn State sanctions:
Earlier today the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) held a teleconference to announce a modification to the sanctions set forth in the Consent Decree that the NCAA entered into with Penn State on July 23, 2012.
The NCAA’s decision to modify the Consent Decree was based strongly on the recommendations of Senator George Mitchell who has been serving since August 2012 as the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor responsible for overseeing Penn State’s implementation of the reforms set forth in the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The AIA was entered into on August 29, 2012 by the NCAA, the Big Ten Conference and Penn State as one of the requirements of the Consent Decree.
As a party to the AIA, the Big Ten, through its Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COPC), met with Senator Mitchell on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 and received his report on Penn State’s progress in complying with the reform requirements of the AIA. Senator Mitchell’s briefing included a recommendation to modify the NCAA sanctions in the Consent Decree related to scholarships based on the significant progress that Penn State has made to date in its compliance and reform efforts. He made no other recommendations to modify any other sanctions at this time.
“On the basis of Senator Mitchell’s briefing, the COPC reached consensus to support his recommendation to the NCAA,” said COPC Chair and Iowa President, Sally Mason. “We support the NCAA’s announcement today acting on that recommendation.”
Due to Penn State University’s continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity, the NCAA Executive Committee is gradually restoring football scholarships the university lost because of sanctions more than a year ago. These changes were endorsed by the Division I Board of Directors and based on the recommendation of George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State and former U.S. Senator.
Beginning next academic year (2014-15), five additional initial scholarships will be restored to the university’s football team. This amount will continue to increase until they reach the full allocation of 25 initial in 2015-16 and 85 total football scholarships in 2016-17.
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The Penn State board of trustees authorized the university to make settlement offers to sexual abuse victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The board of trustee made the announcement Friday at a meeting at the Penn State campus in Fayette County.
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