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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sues NCAA

Governor Tom Corbett today announced that he is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), calling its sanctions against Penn State University arbitrary and illegal, saying they would result in irreparable economic damage to the university, the commonwealth and its citizens. “Penn State football has played a major role, not only as a focus of campus life, but as a generator of revenue for a proud university, a leading tourist attraction and a creator of jobs in the state,’’ Corbett said.

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Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship issued the following statement on the Paterno family’s lawsuit against the NCAA:

“Make no mistake: we would not be in this position today if the Penn State Board of Trustees had the decency to demand due process and real truth in understanding the Sandusky scandal as far back as November 2011. There has been much criticism of the NCAA for the baseless and overreaching sanctions they levied on Penn State nearly a year ago. Speaking for Penn State alumni and supporters, who have been saddened and beyond frustrated by not only the unfairness, but by the role our own Trustees’ played in acquiescing to the outrageous demands, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) is in complete support of the lawsuit filed today. It is time to get the Freeh Report into a court of law and to fully understand why such conjecture would be so readily accepted, promoting a narrative that is not only false, but further damaging to the university and the greater Penn State community. PS4RS hopes the ultimate outcome of today’s courageous action is the uncovering of the real truths surrounding the Sandusky scandal, and knowledge that will truly help protect the children of Pennsylvania. To date, the Trustees’ blind acceptance of the Freeh procedure and report has been nothing but harmful to the State College community, alumni, faculty, students, and, most importantly, to the children.”

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.

 

The NCAA filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a new Pennsylvania law that would keep in the state the $60 million fine levied against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky child abuse crimes.   The lawsuit was filed shortly after Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill into law.  State lawmakers are opposed to using the money from the fine in other states.  The NCAA, when it levied the fine, said it would be used to finance child abuse prevention efforts.    CBS Sports reports that the NCAA lawsuit targets the governor, the state’s auditor general, treasurer and the chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

“By seizing the funds and restricting eligibility to benefit from the funds only to Pennsylvania programs benefiting only Pennsylvania residents, the act will defeat the consent decree’s plain terms and frustrate the parties’ intended purpose,” the NCAA’s lawyers wrote, according to CBS Sports.  The lawsuit claims the new PA law is unconstitutional because it directs state officials to collect money to which the state is not entitled.  It says the new law tries to regulate transactions by out of state entities in violation of the Commerce Clause.

In January, Governor Corbett filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NCAA of antitrust violations.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted of sex crimes against young boys.  One incident took place in a locker room shower.  Penn State administrators at the time are accused of covering up for him.  The NCAA levied a series of punishments which included the $60 million fine.

. (AP) — The NCAA said Thursday a judge should throw out the federal antitrust lawsuit the governor filed against it over Penn State’s $60 million fine and other penalties resulting from the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

College sports’ governing body said in a filing that it disagrees with just about every allegation in the complaint against it initiated by Gov. Tom Corbett last month.

The NCAA said the penalties imposed under a July consent decree with the university are unrelated to regulation of economic activity, so antitrust law does not apply. It also argued Corbett lacks standing to sue and called his lawsuit ”an inappropriate attempt to drag the federal courts into an intra-state political dispute.”

”The remedial measures that Penn State agreed to were controversial, and have elicited strong feelings on all sides,” the NCAA’s lawyers wrote. ”Some think they are too harsh, and some think they are too lenient. But none of those feelings have anything to do with the antitrust laws.”

Corbett, a Republican, has said the NCAA overstepped its authority in punishing Penn State. His spokesman Nils Frederiksen said Thursday his lawyers will review the NCAA’s filing ”and respond as appropriate.”

Corbett claimed in his lawsuit the NCAA ”piled on” when it penalized Penn State over the Sandusky scandal. He asked that a federal judge throw out the sanctions, which include a four-year ban on bowl games, arguing that the measures have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes.

The NCAA, in its federal court filing, disagreed.

”It is exceptionally unlikely that sanctions temporarily impairing one school’s prowess on the football field would render any of these robust nationwide economic markets less competitive, such that Stanford suddenly could raise tuition, Michigan could offer fewer or less valuable football scholarships, or Notre Dame could charge more for branded football jerseys,” the NCAA said in the new filing.

The case could define just how far the NCAA’s authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed the organization broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics.

Even if the factual claims in Corbett’s lawsuit are true, the NCAA said, the matter involves Penn State, not the Pennsylvania residents on whose behalf the antitrust action was made.

Penn State said it had no role in the lawsuit. In fact, it agreed not to sue as part of the deal with the NCAA accepting the sanctions, which were imposed in July after an investigation found that football coach Joe Paterno and other top officials hushed up sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky, a former member of Paterno’s staff, for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity.

Sandusky, who’s in his late 60s, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys, some of them on Penn State’s campus. He is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence but insists he’s innocent.

The penalties against Penn State include a cut in the number of football scholarships the university can award and a rewriting of the record books to erase 14 years of victories under Paterno, who was fired when the scandal broke in late 2011 and died of lung cancer shortly after.

The lawsuit represents a reversal by the governor. When Penn State’s president consented to the sanctions last summer, Corbett, a member of the Board of Trustees, embraced them as part of the university’s effort to repair the damage from the Sandusky scandal.

Corbett said he waited to sue over the penalties because he wanted to thoroughly research the legal issues and did not want to interfere with the football season.

Two Pennsylvania congressmen, Charlie Dent and Glenn Thompson, called for the NCAA to restore football scholarships taken away from Penn State, saying in a letter last month the sanctions unfairly punish innocent student-athletes for the child sex abuse scandal.

Penn State officials and Paterno’s family deny there was a cover-up of allegations against Sandusky.

A minor victory for the State of Pennsylvania with regards to the Penn State fine money.  State Senator Jake Corman, who represents parts of Centre, Juniata, Mifflin and Perry Counties, is suing the NCAA to keep all $60 million here.  Thursday, Corman announced that the NCAA will not disperse the $12 million already paid by PSU.  Corman filed the suit because he believes the money, which comes from PA residents, should stay in the state and benefit groups that help with child abuse prevention and education here.

Local News
01/03/13

The politics of the NCAA lawsuit

While Governor Tom Corbett (R) says his lawsuit against the NCAA over its sanctions against Penn State is not political in nature, some political observers say it could be a key factor not only in the upcoming gubernatorial race but in initial relationship with incoming Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D).

Corbett announced the federal antitrust lawsuit Wednesday, saying the association “overreached” when it fined the university $60 million, banned it from post-season play for four years, limited scholarships and took other measures. The sanctions were in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

When the sanctions were announced, Corbett called them part of the “corrective” process the university was going through. But now, he says the NCAA should not have acted as it did.

“At the same, I think a day later, I talked about the severity of these. And, taking a look at what’s going to happen,” said Corbett. “In this case, President Emmert and the executive committee overstepped the bounds and the rules of the NCAA, imposed their own penalties without using the infractions committee. They did not follow their rules, thereby I believe violated the antitrust laws of the United States.”

Quinnipiac University released a poll August 2, which showed Pennsylvanians’ attitudes toward to the sanctions. The pollsters found 44 percent of people thought the sanctions were too severe. However, 33 percent thought they were appropriate. Meanwhile, 14 percent thought they weren’t severe enough.

The pollsters also found “52 percent of people in households where someone has or is attending Penn State say the penalties are too severe.”

“Penn State alumni is a very interesting political community because it’s bipartisan. And, a lot of people think it could be the X factor in the governor’s re-election,” said Keegan Gibson, managing editor of PoliticsPA.com. “The governor’s action will help get out in front of potential criticism of people who will criticize him for supporting the sanctions at first, or at least agreeing with them.”

Corbett is up for re-election in 2014.

Former Attorney General Walter Cohen said unless a settlement is reached quickly, the case is likely to last into 2014 and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Later this month, Democrat Kathleen Kane will take over as attorney general. She was critical of Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky case during her campaign. She said she plans to review how the investigation moved forward.

“This could be Governor Corbett’s way of getting ahead of the curve and helping to co-opt the narrative of that story before Kathleen Kane takes office,” said Gibson.

Current Attorney General Linda Kelly designated the Governor’s Office of General Counsel to handle this case against the NCAA. State officials said she did so in part because of the amount of work being undertaken in the prosecution of Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.

Walter Cohen said it’s unlikely Kathleen Kane would intervene in the governor’s case. Kane’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

“I don’t think that Attorney General Kane would want to say, ‘No, I want this case back.’ It’s the governor’s case. It’s an unusual case. It’s a difficult case,” said Cohen.

FOX43 legal analyst Steven Breit discusses Governor Tom Corbett’s NCAA anti-trust lawsuit, to find a way to rescind the sanctions levied against Penn State University in their actions to  Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.

Ben Andreozzi, attorney for victim four in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case, released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA:

“Victim #4 was very disappointed when he learned of the NCAA sanctions several months ago.  He was particularly upset the sanctions were so broad that they impacted people who had absolutely nothing to do with the abuse or the failure to properly report the abuse.  From former football players, who were friends and role models, to “mom and pop” PSU merchandise and food venders living in the community, all were impacted by the NCAA’s decision.  The NCAA acted as if it was the victim in this tragedy, and failed to even take the pulse of the real victims before imposing its will.  I am not suggesting that PSU should have walked away with no sanctions or that the victims should have controlled PSU’s penalty.  Rather,  it was a mistake to impose a broad sanction that gave little consideration to the people who had nothing to do with the abuse, and inexcusable to not  at least consult with the real victims and weigh their thoughts as a factor in the decision making process.”

The NCAA today responded to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s announcement that he is planning to sue the Association for its handling of the Penn State sanctions. The following is a statement from Donald M. Remy, NCAA Executive Vice President and General Counsel:

“We are disappointed by the Governor’s action today. Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy – lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky. While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward. Today’s announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University’s efforts.”

The information above provided by the NCAA.

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