Paterno family wants to appeal Penn State sanctions

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno questioned by reporters

(CNN) — Joe Paterno’s family said Friday it intends to appeal the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s sanctions against Penn State University in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse scandal.

But the family’s plans hit an immediate roadblock.

“Penn State’s sanctions are not subject to appeal,” said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams.

Calling it “a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports,” the NCAA in late July announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University and stripped 14 seasons of football victories from the late Paterno. Penn State President Rodney Erickson said the university had accepted the decision and would not appeal.

Wick Sollers, attorney for Paterno’s family, said the sanctions caused “enormous damage” to Penn State, students, athletes and Paterno.

The sanctions are part of the continued fallout from the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in late June of 45 of the 48 counts he faced involving 10 young victims.

The NCAA action followed an independent investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, whose report held Paterno and other top Penn State officials responsible for failing to stop the abuse beginning in 1998.

Paterno’s family sharply objected to Freeh’s findings and criticized the NCAA and university leadership for accepting the report’s conclusions.

The Freeh report, Sollers wrote, “is incomplete, rife with unsupported opinions and unquestionably one-sided.”

Soller’s letter also argued the NCAA acted hastily and without regard for due process.

The family contends Paterno qualified to appeal the sanctions because he was named in the consent decree and in the Freeh report.

Penn State faced a multiyear shutdown of its football program had it not agreed with the sanctions, Erickson told ESPN.

CNN’s Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

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