The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 30, 2013

Fight to save legacy continues


Daily Item

---- — The fickle nature of the NCAA and how it enforces its vast array of rules with inconsistent penalties makes the organization an easy target.

Just this week the governing body for college sports ruled a women's golfer had violated rules by washing her car with a university's water and hose. The student-athlete was forced to pay $20 -- the projected value of the water and hose usage -- because the NCAA said it was a benefit not available to all students.

This is the same group that ruled Cam Newton eligible -- to lead his team to a national title and win the Heisman Trophy -- after his father shopped his services to schools for a number approaching $200,000.

This inconsistency leads to the latest episode in the Penn State story. The family of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno continues the fight to save his legacy after the Jerry Sandusky scandal threatened to erase it.

The latest attempt comes in the form of a lawsuit, filed Thursday in State College. In it, the family, and a former Penn State assistant coach, five trustees, four faculty members and nine former Paterno players, voice concerns with how quickly the traditionally slow-footed NCAA sanctioned the university and the football program and some findings in the Freeh Report.

The Freeh Report, commissioned by the university and taken as gospel by the NCAA, placed the blame squarely on Paterno and three other high-ranking officials, who are all facing legal battles. The NCAA admitted it never investigated the case, using the report as the backdrop of its heavy-handed sanctions that included a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions, bowl bans and more.

To this point, no one is sure who knew what at Penn State. That remains a sticking point. The truth likely lies somewhere in between all the stories told so far, yet the NCAA did not wait to punish the university.

Less than two weeks after the Freeh Report's release, the NCAA hammered Penn State with the unprecedented sanctions. It took the NCAA 13 month to clear Cam Newton and 13 days to close the book on much more complicated case in Happy Valley.

"If there was ever a situation that demanded meticulous review and a careful adherence to NCAA rules and guidelines, this was it," said attorney Nick Sollers on Wednesday night.

It sure was and for that reason the fight continues.