NCAA asked to further ease sanctions on Penn State

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Five Pennsylvania Congressmen sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking that the organization remove the remaining recruiting restrictions and to erase a $60 million fine against Penn State, punishment that was levied in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

One of the five, U.S. Rep. Charles Dent, R-Lehigh County, told PennLive.com that he'd like to see the last two years of a four-year bowl ban lifted, too.

"The impact of these sanctions directly contradicts your organization's supposed goal of promoting education for student-athletes," the letter said, in part. It also said the sanctions hurt "innocent student-athletes who had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky's unspeakable crimes."

New Penn State coach James Franklin talked a bit about the sanctions -- which were handed down in July 2012 -- at Big Ten Media Days.

"Obviously that's floating out there and we'll see what happens," he said Monday. "But I spend very little time thinking or talking about those things because I don't want to be disappointed. I don't want our players to be disappointed. I focus on what we know, and right now it's very black and white. So we focus on that."

Linebacker Mike Hull told reporters that Franklin has addressed the team "two or three times" about not getting ahead of itself and thinking about a bowl game.

The NCAA removed some of the recruiting restrictions last September, which enabled Penn State to have 75 scholarships for this academic year. As it stands, the school can award 25 scholarships and have 80 players on scholarship in 2015-16 and can award 25 scholarships and have 85 players on scholarship in 2016-17.

Further easing of the restrictions conceivably could mean the NCAA limit of 85 scholarships for 2015-16. Originally, the limit was to be 65 through 2017.

It would not be a surprise if the NCAA were to lift the postseason ban. The recruiting restrictions could ease, as well. The fine should remain. No rational argument can be made that the fine is hurting "innocent student-athletes," as the letter asserts. But a strong argument can be made that reaching into a wallet because of transgressions made by officials who failed miserably in their roles is the best way to truly get a school's attention.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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