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BSD brings your your bi-weekly dose of news and notes from Penn State.


If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. Given the speed with which Penn State has been able to reduce their scholarship roster, plenty of people, including Bylaw Blog's John Infante, are wondering whether the university should be allowed to accelerate the sanctions process.

An NCAA spokesperson said that, according to the Consent Decree, the scholarship reductions are part of a five-year agreement. As a result, even if Penn State does reach the 65-scholarship limit one year early, the term is unlikely to be reduced.

"The standard established in the consent decree was a five-year window, so the sanctions must be in place for the full five years," Emily Potter, NCAA assistant director of public and media relations, said in an email.

The Consent Decree ends with a clause that states it "may be modified or clarified by mutual written consent of the parties." Neither the NCAA nor Penn State would comment about whether any discussion had taken place on starting the 65-scholarship sanction early.

John Infante, a former NCAA compliance officer, wrote about the case last week on his Bylaw Blog at the site He asked the question, "why is [Penn State] not allowed to start the sanction early?"

"Scholarship sanctions are routinely delayed when a school has already committed itself to more scholarships than the sanctions would allow," Infante wrote. "In Penn State's case, the NCAA built in a delay to allow the school to get down to the reduced number.

"Penn State did not need the delay. The NCAA should allow PSU to move its overall counter sanction up by a year, ending now with the 2016-17 academic year."

However, Infante said in a telephone interview, the Consent Decree that Penn State signed reduces the school's options.

"This [decree] cannot be appealed, and by signing it, Penn State forfeited its right to sue," Infante said. "It sounds like the NCAA is not really interested in reopening [the decree] or renegotiating."

Meanwhile, Penn State wrestling coach (and Cari's new love interest) Cael Sanderson has his own opinion of the NCAA.

Following Penn State's 24-21 overtime win, O'Brien did an emotional television interview in which he called his team a "bunch of fighters." Some, however, thought the coach inadvertently used another word that begins with the letter F.

Back to Camp Hill. "Let's pretend like you guys are the NCAA," Sanderson told the crowd. "Knock, knock."

"Who's there?" they said in unison.

Pause, then Sanderson.

"Go fighters yourself."

Navigation Systems. BSD friend Kevin McGuire writes that O'Brien's willingness to come to grips with the sanctions imposed last summer paved the way for Penn State to properly navigate another media firestorm.

O'Brien was quick to review and come to grips with the sanctions against Penn State. It was his ability to accept them for what they were and continue to move forward that became the theme for the program's coaches and players. O'Brien's leadership at a time when some were calling for the banishment of Penn State football and his continued focus on moving forward were greatly respected by even those who felt Penn State football should cease to exist, at least for a year or two. Had O'Brien gone a different direction with his reaction, perhaps the rest of the story would have changed as well.

O'Brien was angry, but he knew there was little he could do about the outcome and the circumstances. All he could do was establish a plan to get through the next four years and he was quick to lay out some of those ideas with his players. He also made every attempt to be as honest as possible with the media.

Of course, O'Brien had a little bit of help along the way. His co-motivator, All-American linebacker and All-Universe human being Michael Mauti, gets to live out his dream of playing in the NFL despite three major knee injuries because of that leadership.

"It's how you deal with it that defines your character," Mauti said last week. "We were the faces of the whole thing. No one else from the administration wanted to step up and speak for us, no one even from the university. We felt like we had to take the responsibility. We owed that to the community and whoever supports Penn State around the world.

"Having that platform was an experience in itself, with the media ripping you apart every day. We understood how much of a joke the NCAA is, but you can't go around pouting about it. We had a football season to play."

It became the most draining and yet most exuberant, "from ground-zero-to-the-peak-of-the-mountain" kind of season. So, to have it end when an enemy helmet flew in from behind and took out his knee yet again . . .

Though denied playing in his final Penn State game, he lifted up his teammates and coaches anyway on the night before Wisconsin. That's the memory of Mauti that burns brightest for coach Bill O'Brien.

"He got up and just gave a great speech," O'Brien said. "Wearing one of those weight room T-shirts, grabbing the podium . . ."

Then he helped coach his buddies to that overtime victory the next day.

Your Weekly #Culture Update. This past weekend was Commencement Weekend at Penn State. Congratulations to all of the new graduates who now make their way into our alumni community, especially to the record 109 student-athletes who graduated this weekend. Perhaps the best graduation story comes from Penn State Berks student Foday Sheriff, who fled Sierra Leone's blood diamond wars as a child and graduated with a Bachelor's in Life Science.

"As long as you know who you are and what you want, you can say ‘no' to anything," Sheriff stated. "I know if I work hard toward what I want, I will succeed."

Sheriff graduated from high school in 2007, while many of his classmates dropped out - or worse - were killed as a result of gang violence. Yet when he tried to apply for financial aid to attend college, he was denied because he did not have any documentation about his parents, who had returned to Sierra Leone.

So Sheriff took a job at the Philadelphia Airport, working on the baggage ramp. There a coworker who told him about the ASPIRE program at Penn State Berks. The ASPIRE program offers admission consideration to students who demonstrate the potential to be successful but who may require specialized and structured academic support services. The program is for Pennsylvania residents who are freshmen applicants.

Sheriff met with the Penn State Berks ASPIRE program coordinator, and he enrolled at Penn State Berks in the fall of 2009. He continued to work full-time while taking classes, and yet he still managed to make the dean's list and gain membership to Chi Alpha Epsilon honor society.

Meanwhile, ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer spoke at the College of Communications Commencement Ceremony this weekend and encouraged students to follow their passion.

Bodenheimer was warmly received by students and family members who responded with loud applause when he encouraged them to "envision we're up in Beaver Stadium, it's a beautiful fall afternoon, the Nittany Lions just driven the length of the field to score a victory over one of our Big Ten rivals."

He kept his speech brief, telling the graduates and their families about the start of his ESPN career, when he began working in the mailroom in 1981. As the network grew, so did Bodenheimer's role within ESPN. He was the network's longest-tenured president, serving from 1998 to 2012.

"An example of where passion drives success took place in this very arena not even three months ago. Of course I'm talking about THON," he said, referring to Penn State's student-run dance marathon that raised more than $12.37 million this past year to help lead the fight against pediatric cancer.

"I've been fortunate over the years with ESPN to attend sporting events all over the world. Some of the greatest events, but I have never, trust me, I have never, ever seen more passion for an event than I saw here in this arena over that weekend."

Quick Hitters. PennLive's (and occasional BSD Blue/White Roundtable contributor) Matthew Pencek chats with four-star wide receiver recruit Chris Godwin, who verbally committed to the Nittany Lions last week . . . Penn State men's lacrosse earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2005 season, and will host Yale this Saturday . . . The HUB is scheduled for a $44.6 million renovation.

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