Sandusky notifies trial court he plans to appeal

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Sandusky notifies trial court he plans to appeal

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky's attorneys have notified his trial judge that he wants a state appeals court to overturn his convictions for molesting boys.

Attorneys for the former Penn State assistant football coach filed a pair of appeal notices Thursday that indicate Sandusky wants the state Superior Court to take up his convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The notices were filed in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, the site of his three-week trial last summer.

Also Thursday, Penn State outlined in a new court filing why it thinks a defamation and whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former football assistant coach who reported Sandusky in 2001 lacks merit and should be dismissed.

The university filed a 33-page document that fleshed out its response to Mike McQueary's civil suit over how he was treated after reporting that he saw the former defensive coordinator showering with a boy.

In the Sandusky criminal case, the new defense filing comes a month after the trial judge rejected their post-sentencing motions, including an argument that his attorneys lacked sufficient time to prepare for trial.

Judge John Cleland also rejected motions regarding jury instructions, hearsay testimony and a comment by the prosecution during closing arguments that referred to the fact that Sandusky, who did not testify at trial, gave media interviews after he was arrested in November 2011.

In the appeals notices, Sandusky's defense attorneys did not elaborate on the issues he plans to raise on appeal. But lead appellate counsel Norris Gelman said he would make many of the same arguments that Cleland rejected in January.

"The publicity has been bad," Gelman said Thursday. "All we can do is hope that it will not affect or infect the judges of the Superior Court."

He said the likely next step will be for Cleland to order Sandusky's lawyers to file a document that lists their intended claims. After that, Cleland would write an opinion about the case and certify the trial record to Superior Court. Gelman would then get two or three months to file a brief to the appeals court.

The attorney general's office had no immediate comment on the notices.

In the McQueary lawsuit, Penn State's new filing argued that statements in late 2011 by Spanier in support of former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz did not suggest McQueary was lying. McQueary is suing for millions of dollars, alleging Spanier made him a scapegoat.

"This daunting analytical leap is illogical and insufficient as a matter of law," wrote Penn State attorney Nancy Conrad. She said "no fair, cogent reading of the statements suggests that Spanier was making statements by innuendo about (McQueary) that he knew were false or with reckless disregard for their falsity."

Conrad declined an interview request, and a message left for McQueary's lawyer Elliot Strokoff was not immediately returned.

Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence for the sexual abuse of 10 boys, including violent attacks inside Penn State athletics facilities. He maintains his innocence.

Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

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USA Today Images

Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

ERIN, Wis. — The U.S. Open is all about tradition. This week is the 117th playing of golf's national championship and this event more than most celebrates those golfers who play the game as amateurs. 

Soon-to-be Drexel graduate Chris Crawford has been soaking up all the traditions this week at Erin Hills. Playing in his second U.S. Open after qualifying through both local and sectional competition for the second straight year, an extremely difficult feat, the 23-year-old fifth-year senior enjoyed the amateur dinner put on by the tournament organizers with the USGA. Crawford and his fellow amateurs, a stout list including Texas' Scottie Scheffler, who shot 3-under Thursday to seize the early low amateur lead, were celebrated the entire evening — one of Crawford's early highlights in a long week here in Wisconsin. 

Crawford produced a 3-over par 75 Thursday during the first round to tie for 102nd out of a field of 156 players.

"I played OK (Thursday)," Crawford said. "I'm going to take more positives than negatives out of the round. I played really well for 14 holes and just had a few bad swings on the other four holes."

Indeed, Thursday morning started nervously for the former Drexel golf standout. On the opening par-5 first hole, he snap-hooked his drive into the weeds out of bounds to the left, resulting in a double bogey. Three holes later, he chipped one shot over the back of the fourth green and took another double-bogey, placing him 4-over through four holes. 

Although bogeys might keep many of us alive in our weekend matches, it doesn't cut it in a U.S. Open. Crawford responded well in the ensuing 14 holes, going 1-under in that stretch.

Crawford's coach Mike Dynda, who teaches him at LuLu Country Club in Glenside, Pennsylvania, said he makes a big point to prepare Crawford's mind for his big rounds.

"I texted him last night and said, 'When you got to sleep, imagine that you're on the 18th hole and you have a putt for 9-under,'" Dynda said. "It's important to go to sleep and dream like that."

On the other side, Dynda — who taught the golf team at Drexel from 2003-2015 — also told his pupil to stay away from expectations. When you're 23 and you're playing in your second consecutive U.S. Open, one might think it would be easy to get ahead of yourself. Not so with Crawford, according to Dynda.

"I've taught him to not have any expectations for the five years we've been together," Dynda said. 

Crawford had a superstar practice round on Monday, playing with Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk and Wisconsin's own Steve Stricker.

"It was a lot of fun playing with those guys and just watching them strategize about learning a brand new U.S. Open course," Crawford said. "I think that's the biggest thing I was impressed with, was the way they talked about strategy on this golf course.

"They were all very nice with me and were very specific to ask about me and they wanted to learn a little bit about my life, so I appreciated that."

For Dynda, talking with Furyk brought back a fond memory. Furyk's father, Mike, actually sold Dynda his first set of golf clubs, Tommy Armor 845s, back in Philadelphia years ago. 

With one round in the books and the forecast calling for rain this weekend, Crawford was looking forward to having the proper mentality as he headed into Friday's second round.

"I want to go out there and just not get ahead of myself," Crawford said. "I'm going to think positively and appreciate that I'm playing in the national open."

Crawford teed off at 2:31 p.m. local time off of the 10th hole.

"This week is so cool because I never do something like this," Crawford said. "Playing in front of such large crowds is a treat and I just love the interaction with the fans before and after the rounds as well."

Last year at Oakmont, dozens of friends and family made the drive down the turnpike to see him play in his first U.S. Open. This year, Crawford estimates that he has around 15 friends and family out in the galleries cheering him on. Though coach Dynda caddied last year, those duties have gone to current Drexel golf coach Ben Feld.

It's a party this week of Drexel golf proportions.

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Philadelphia basketball fans will be getting a double dip of one of the Atlantic 10 conference's best rivalries once again next season.

With the league's 18-game regular season format in place for a fourth straight year, it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that Saint Joseph's and La Salle will battle twice — once in North Philly at Tom Gola Arena and a second time at the Hawks' home just off City Line Avenue. Each team in the 14-member conference will play eight teams once and five teams twice.

The full pairings for the Explorers and Saint Joe's are listed here:

La Salle
Home: Dayton, George Mason, St. Bonaventure, VCU, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis
Away: Davidson, Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis

Saint Joseph’s
Home: Dayton, Duquesne, Saint Louis, VCU, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure
Away: Davidson, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure

It was also rumored earlier in the day that the Hawks have added a Big Five matchup at Temple for Dec. 9.