Within hours of Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signing off on a new law aimed at keeping Penn State’s $60 million fine in the commonwealth, the NCAA sued him and other lawmakers, calling the new law unconstitutional.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against Penn State, including the $60 million fine, which will go toward programs nationwide aimed at preventing child sex abuse and helping victims.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed a consent decree, saying the university would not challenge the sanctions. He later said he agreed to the terms in lieu of potentially more damaging sanctions, such as the death penalty for the football program.
“State governments can’t simply pass laws to rewrite private agreements and divert private money to their own coffers,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer in a statement.
The lawsuit also names Treasurer Rob McCord (D); Mark Zimmer, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) as defendants.
To view the lawsuit, click here.
State Sen. Jake Corman (R), who represents Centre County, was one of the driving forces behind the new law. It requires any institution like Penn State when fined more than $10 million to send that money to the state treasury.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill. In the House of Representatives, two lawmakers voted against it. It can be viewed by clicking here.
“We’re not telling the NCAA what it can and cannot do with the money it receives. Rather, we’re telling Penn State that it cannot turn over the fine money to the NCAA. It needs to go into an endowment account,” said Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus.
In its court filing, the NCAA calls the new law an “overreach.”
“If the NCAA was going to go down this road, the thought of the General Assembly was that the money should stay in Pennsylvania because Pennsylvania taxpayers have made such a tremendous investment in Penn State University,” said Arneson.
The NCAA points out the football program generated more than $33 million in profit in the 2011-2012 season.
“It’s important that all of our members abide by the same rules to which they have voluntarily agreed,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president said in a prepared statement. “If individual members or state lawmakers take it upon themselves to decide what sanctions are appropriate, simply to protect their home team, then collegiate sports would be dramatically altered.”
Gov. Corbett filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA in early January, saying the sanctions were taking a significant economic toll on the State College region and the commonwealth as a whole.
Sen. Corman sued the NCAA as well to try to keep the fine money within Pennsylvania.
Penn State has already paid the NCAA $12 million. That money is not being spent while negotiations over Corman’s lawsuit continue.