A group of former Penn State players, led by former quarterback Michael Robinson, has notified the NCAA that it intends to appeal the harsh sanctions placed upon the football program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Paul V. Kelly, an attorney for former Nittany Lions quarterback Michael Robinson and seven others who played for Penn State at some point during the 14 seasons in which the NCAA vacated victories, sent an intent to appeal letter (PDF) to the NCAA dated Aug. 7.
A Penn State trustee has sent a similar letter to the NCAA, though the governing body for college sports has said the sanctions are not subject to appeal.
The group is challenging the consent decree Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed when the school accepted the penalties last month, as well as the findings in the Freeh report, which the NCAA used instead of doing its own investigation.
"The Appellants challenge the factual findings and conclusions of the consent decree and of the underlying investigative report by Sporkin & Sullivan (the "Freeh Report"), which -- without notice, investigation or hearing as required -- provided the predicate for the actions taken by the NCAA in this matter."
The letter says many of the findings in the report "are clearly erroneous and not supported by the evidence."
"By these unsupported findings, the Appellants have been forever branded as somehow contributing to a 'culture' on campus that enabled these unlawful acts against children to continue. Meaning no disrespect to the victims of abuse, these findings are unfair and they are wrong."
Robinson played at Penn State from 2001-05 and is currently with the Seattle Seahawks. Also named in the letter were ex-assistant coach Bill Kenney and former players Anwar Phillips (2001-05), Josh Gaines (2004-08), Shamar Finney (1998-2002), Richard Gardner (1999-2003), Gerald Cadogan (2004-08), Anthony Adams (1998-2002) and Justin Kurpeikis (1996-2000).
Former Penn State linebacker Brandon Short, who played seven seasons in the NFL from 2000-06, sent a letter to a group of former teammates. While he isn't part of the appeal, he wrote:
"The appeal to the NCAA that this group of Letterman are filing is a tangible example of how the Penn State Letterman can act to effect positive change. These letterman are acting on behalf of all of us who played, all who are playing and all who will play at Penn State. While this initiative is currently being lead by players from 1998-2011 they represent ALL of us."
The penalties handed down last month included a four-bowl ban, scholarship cuts and 111 vacated wins from 1998-2011 under late coach Joe Paterno, knocking the Hall of Famer from the top spot on the career victories list in major college football.
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing in jail after being convicted in June on 45 criminal counts.
Acting with rare speed, the NCAA announced sanctions July 23 after Penn State handed over results of Freeh's investigation.
The school accepted the sanctions and signed off on a consent decree, with Erickson saying later he didn't see a better option since the threat of the "death penalty," or the total shutdown of the football program, loomed over the school.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.