Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced this morning that he intends to file a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA in an effort to overturn what he called "harsh penalties" against Penn State. The sanctions came in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Corbett said the NCAA exceeded its authority in imposing the penalties. He said the NCAA's sanctions, which the university agreed to, harm past, present and future students.
Corbett traveled to State College today to make the announcement flanked by members of his staff and current and former students and athletes from the school. He said the NCAA punished students, the community and businesses around the university, not the former assistant football coach who molested children.
The sanctions imposed in July included a $60 million fine to be used for child abuse prevention grants, a reduction in football scholarships, a four-year bowl game ban for the university's football program and the forfeiture of 112 wins.
“These punishments threaten to have a devastating, long-lasting and irreparable effect on the state, its citizens and its economy.’’ -Tom Corbett
“While what occurred at Penn State was both criminal and heinous, the conduct for which Penn State was sanctioned consisted of alleged failures to report criminal activity on campus that did not impact fairness or integrity on the playing field,’’ said Corbett. “These punishments threaten to have a devastating, long-lasting and irreparable effect on the state, its citizens and its economy.’’
Corbett said he waited until now to file the lawsuit because he wanted to thoroughly research the legal issues and did not want it to interfere with football season.
Corbett, a Republican, said his office did not coordinate its legal strategy with state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 15. Instead, the current attorney general, Linda Kelly, agreed to grant the governor authority to pursue the matter.
Corbett said the lawsuit to be filed later Wednesday and would show the NCAA actions were overreaching and unlawful.
The NCAA, which has declined to comment on the planned lawsuit.
Paterno's family responds
Joe Paterno's family said it's encouraged by word of the suit. The late football coach's family released a statement Wednesday that says that Gov. Tom Corbett "now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment" in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.