STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - Penn State top reserve linebacker Khairi Fortt is heading to California, the latest Nittany Lion to transfer in the wake of tough NCAA sanctions against the program.
The junior says in a statement Wednesday issued through his father, Guy Fortt, that he loved Cal when he visited when being recruited in high school from Connecticut. He said he would miss Penn State.
Fortt is the fourth player to leave Penn State following the NCAA penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Sanctions include a four-year bowl ban and significant scholarship decline.
The Stamford Advocate first reported Fortt’s decision.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Penn State’s loss could turn into a big gain on the ground for Southern California.
Star tailback Silas Redd bolted Happy Valley to join the Trojans in a season of great expectations in Los Angeles. A 1,200-yard rusher, Redd will join heralded quarterback Matt Barkley on a team already favored to win the Pac-12 and return to the Rose Bowl.
It’s a perk that Redd wouldn’t have enjoyed at Penn State with the program burdened by stiff NCAA sanctions because of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Among the penalties was a four-year postseason ban, as well as a scholarship reduction.
The NCAA also allowed players to seek new schools to play immediately this season, so long as they left by the start of Penn State training camp on Monday.
Since the sanctions were imposed last week, Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien has been trying to keep the team intact by stressing academics, family and the prospect of playing seven home games a year in front of a crowd of 108,000 strong at Beaver Stadium.
For the most part, it seems to have worked _ even though Redd’s departure will be a serious blow to an offense being reconfigured by O’Brien, the former coordinator of the New England Patriots’ high-powered attack.
Counting Redd, three players have left Penn State since the NCAA imposed its landmark sanctions on July 23. A fourth player, third-string quarterback Rob Bolden, was removed from the roster this week but had been granted permission to talk to other schools before the sanctions.
Otherwise, O'Brien hasn’t lost any other starters or top backups so far. He had also said last week at Big Ten media days that more than 50 players had indicated they would stay. Six 2013 recruits have also reaffirmed their verbal commitments.
Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner wished Redd and the other transfers well. “I think that certainly we understand and it’s within their purview,” Joyner said in an interview Tuesday night with The Associated Press at an evening football function.