A third shoe has dropped in the Penn State scandal situation, on the appeals front. We already have the Paterno Family appeal and the Board of Trustees appeal, and now a group of former Penn State players has added itself to the mix.
As reported by The Centre Daily Times, eight former Nittany Lions players and a former coach are attempting to file an appeal on behalf of all Nittany Lions coaches and players from 1998 to 2011, the vacated seasons.
While the Paterno family appeal was rooted in fixing the legacy of the head coach, they did have ground for filing appeal on his behalf. The Board of Trustees has a solid plan to file an appeal given Rodney Erickson's failure to follow protocol, and rumor has it the Board is planning on going the legal route once the NCAA denies the appeal.
The players' appeal comes from an odd space. No players or other coaches are at the crux of the NCAA's sanctions. There are no violations by players. There are no bylaws that give unnamed parties the right to an appeal—especially in a case such as this, where the NCAA is adamantly opposed to granting anyone an appellate right.
Penn State sanctions are not subject to appeal.
— BOB WILLIAMS (@NCAABob) August 3, 2012
The players mention the lack of due process and, of course, the total reliance on the Freeh Report. The appellants are looking to get the good name of Penn State back. They note that the sanctions:
“inflict permanent damage to an entire generation of student-athletes and coaches who were innocent of any wrongdoing during their time on campus while placing an unwarranted blemish on an institution that, by the NCAA’s own acknowledgement, ‘has never before had NCAA major violations."
Touting Penn State's history of no NCAA violations is not exactly the place to start with an appeal. The culture is the reason the NCAA reportedly hammered the school, and extolling the virtue of that culture seems a bit of a misstep.
Surely there is some modicum of virtue to be found in the former players rallying together to stand up for their accomplishments, and the diehard Penn State fan will most certainly find it. However, as it stands now, for appeals to make an impact they must have some validity, and the Penn State former players appeal is the weakest of them all.
With the NCAA already dismissing the Paterno Family appeal and the Board of Trustees appeal coming with the expectation of going the legal route, it is unlikely much comes of the players filing for appeal on similar grounds. Unlike the Board of Trustees, the players don't have the grounds by which to invalidate Rodney Erickson's action through legal recourse.