Indiana News

Pennsylvania Seeks Overturning of NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State

Lawsuit contends organization violated its own bylaws in Sandusky case


NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis ( photo: Eric Berman)

Pennsylvania is asking a federal judge to throw out all NCAA sanctions against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case.


Governor Tom Corbett contends the NCAA "piled on" Penn State for its own benefit, and used the threat of a four-year football "death penalty" to coerce the university into accepting the penalties.

Corbett and general counsel Jim Schultz argue the NCAA has no authority to impose punishment for criminal violations having no direct connection to the football program. They note the university already faces potential civil liability and punishment from the U.S. Department of Education, and those directly responsible -- Sandusky and three administrators charged with obstruction of justice -- will have their fate determined in criminal court.

The lawsuit accuses the Indianapolis-based organization of violating antitrust law by failing to follow its own bylaws in its decision to discipline Penn State and in the process it used to do so.

Corbett contends the penalties spread the punishment far beyond those responsible, to university students, athletes, and local businesses.

Penn State itself is not a party to the lawsuit, although as governor, Corbett is a member of the board of trustees. Corbett says he advised the board of his intentions but did not seek the university's involvement.

In July, the NCAA banned Penn State from bowl games and the Big Ten championship game for four years, slashed 40 football scholarships over that period, and vacated 13 years' worth of Penn State football victories, dropping former coach Joe Paterno from Division I-AA's all-time winningest coach to seventh. The ruling also stripped Penn State of two Big Ten co-championships.

The NCAA also ordered Penn State to pay $60 million to organizations which combat sexual abuse. Corbett says he'll ask the trustees to follow through on that payment even if the state wins the lawsuit, but says the payments should go to organizations within Pennsylvania.

NCAA general counsel Donald Remy issued a statement calling the lawsuit "without merit" and "an affront to all of the victims."


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