Pennsylvania to Sue NCAA over Penn State Sanctions
This is an interesting court case for a number of reasons. For starters, obviously, it’s going to be headline grabbing. What Jerry Sandusky did was inhuman, and depending on how this gets explained, the state’s attempt to sue the NCAA could be a public relations nightmare if not handled right.
Secondly, the state may have a point — especially if it points out that what it wants is the $60 million Penn State agreed to pay in sanctions to stay in-state, not get flushed out nationally. Sandusky’s victims were mostly kids in Pennsylvania, so why not let Penn State’s money heal and prevent future abuse in the Keystone State?
Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday he plans to sue the NCAA in federal court over stiff sanctions imposed against Penn State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
The Republican governor scheduled a Wednesday news conference on the Penn State campus in State College to announce the antitrust filing in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.
The sanctions, which were agreed to by the university in July, included a $60 million fine that would be used nationally to finance child abuse prevention grants. The sanctions also included a four-year bowl game ban for the university’s marquee football program, reduced football scholarships and the forfeiture of 112 wins but didn’t include a suspension of the football program, the so-called death penalty.
The governor’s office announced the news conference late Tuesday afternoon. His spokesman did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking to confirm a Sports Illustrated story that cited anonymous sources saying a lawsuit was imminent.
Corbett’s brief statement did not indicate whether his office coordinated its legal strategy with state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 15.
Kane, a Democrat, ran on a vow to investigate why it took state prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky, an assistant under former football coach Joe Paterno. Corbett was the attorney general when that office took over the case in early 2009 and until he became governor in January 2011.
State and congressional lawmakers from Pennsylvania have objected to using the Penn State fine to finance activities in other states. Penn State has already made the first $12 million payment, and an NCAA task force is deciding how it should be spent.
The NCAA, which did not respond to calls seeking comment Tuesday, has said at least a quarter of the money would be spent in Pennsylvania.
Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent called that an “unacceptable and unsatisfactory” response by the NCAA to a request from the state’s U.S. House delegation that the whole $60 million be distributed to causes within the state.
Last week, state Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican whose district includes Penn State’s main campus, said he plans to seek court action barring any of the first $12 million from being released to groups outside the state.
Another factor in this is pretty simple: While there is probably a legal document out there regarding the sanctions between the NCAA and the school, the question at large is this: Who the hell gave the NCAA the right to act as judge, jury, and executioner in the first place?
The NCAA is a body meant to oversee sports, games, and conferences; and they do it all from a corporate tower in downtown Indianapolis. They aren’t the ones who decide when laws are broken and so on. They aren’t a court, they aren’t a regulatory body.
All they are is a partnership meant to allow schools to compete against each other.
Don’t get me wrong, I want Penn State punished. They willingly let a child predator run rampant on their campus for decades all in the name of protecting a coach, his football program, and their school.
But there is a point in saying, “Hey, those who were wronged were in this state. How ’bout keeping the money here?” On that action, I completely agree with what appears to be plan going forward. Anything else, would be and should be seen as trying to get out their responsibility here.
That would be unacceptable.