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When Towson University athletics officials discovered in late September that one of their football players competed while ineligible, they took swift action -- reporting the violation to Patriot League and NCAA officials and forfeiting what would have been the team's only conference win. Penn officials have not yet indicated whether they will take similar action in the aftermath of recent disclosures that star defensive tackle Mitch Marrow competed while academically ineligible. The University may be forced to forfeit all five victories Marrow participated in, dropping the Quakers' 6-4 record to 1-9. Penn's 5-2 Ivy League record would fall to 0-7. Both controversies began when athletics officials discovered that a player was ineligible to compete. Towson acted to resolve the situation within two to three days. But while Penn officials have known about Marrow's ineligibility for two weeks, they only responded to the incident after it appeared in a Thanksgiving Day Philadelphia Inquirer article. They have reported the violation, but have yet to announce any specific self-sanctions. Towson officials were surprised to discover that a first-year freshman football player hadn't been certified by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse, a prerequisite for any varsity student-athlete. The error, discovered on September 29 or 30, resulted from miscommunication between athletics officials responsible for monitoring athletes' eligibility, according to Towson Sports Information Director Peter Schlehr. The freshman played in three games, including a 27-7 win over Holy Cross September 13, before officials uncovered his ineligibility. "We immediately set in motion the things that we were gong to do," Schlehr said, adding that Towson notified the Patriot League and Holy Cross of the violation. "We thought the right thing to do was to expose it and offer the forfeit and accept it." Marrow did not play in Penn's October 4 game against Towson. Because he sat out, the Quakers 26-14 win would be the only victory that would stand if officials decide to forfeit the victories in which Marrow played. Since both schools compete in nonscholarship conferences -- Penn in the Ivy League and Towson in the Patriot League -- the scope of possible sanctions is relatively small. Often, schools that violate NCAA regulations are forced to reduce the number of scholarships they offer. Furthermore, because Ivy schools do not compete in postseason play, sanctions on Penn's ability to compete in the Division I-AA playoffs would be moot. Forfeiture of games is therefore one of the most dramatic measures that can be taken against Ivy and Patriot league schools.

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