Pennsylvania suing to stop NCAA's Penn State sanctions
January 2nd, 2013
11:32 AM ET

Pennsylvania suing to stop NCAA's Penn State sanctions

[Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET] The state of Pennsylvania will file a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, seeking to have a judge throw out all sanctions the association levied against Penn State University in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday.

Corbett (pictured) said the penalties - a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on bowl games, football scholarship reductions, and the stripping of 14 seasons of football victories under late head coach Joe Paterno - were unfair to the university, its students, and Pennsylvania citizens because the Sandusky criminal matter already is being handled in courts.

The NCAA "piled on ... (punishing) the citizens of Pennsylvania, who had nothing to do with these crimes," Corbett said.

"These sanctions are an attack on the past, present and future students of Penn State, the citizens of our commonwealth and our economy. As governor of this commonwealth, I cannot and will not stand by and let it happen without a fight," Corbett said.

He said the NCAA's actions were unlawful and overreaching, and that it essentially forced Penn State to accept the sanctions under the threat that if the school didn't accept them, the NCAA would impose on the football program a "death penalty" - a suspension from play of a year or more.

The NCAA levied the penalties last July.

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Scuromondo

    The real problem is that the NCAA handed down sanctions BEFORE the case against the university officials even went to court. In fact, the case against Sandusky was over-and-done-with six months ago, and the case against the university STILL hasn't even come to trial–what's up with that?! Obviously, given the public outrage at the time, the NCAA was under pressure to do something–anything–punitive before the legal process ran its course. If the NCAA would have waited for a legal ruling (they'd still be waiting), or if they would have issued a weak punishment, the public anger would have only gotten worse.

    If that trial ever happens and it concludes that Paterno and the others did what was alleged in the Freeh report, then I think it will be hard for anyone to complain about the NCAA sanctions. However, if at least one of that bunch is even partially vindicated, that would definitely complicate things a bit.

    January 2, 2013 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat.

      Corbett has gotten this decision right. PSU is a PUBLIC university funded by Pennsylvanian tax payer money. That a handful of PSU leaders failed to do their jobs does not give the NCAA the right to punish every Pennsylvanian. If the NCAA continues on it's quest to take all but 25% of their 60 million dollar fine out of PA, it will result in major damage to PA's education system. Name one state in the USA that can afford this kind of tax payer rip off to their education system. Allow the NCAA this kind of power once and every NCAA lawyer will try to do it again.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • FFighter46

      I also wonder how much of that money will be used by Emeritt for "Administrative" reasons!?

      January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Pat, that is partially correct but you may be missing the other 1/2. Yes, indeed it is a public university that is PARTIALLY funded by taxes (not entirely). However, whatever misgivings the state may have does not invalidate the contractual obligations between PSU and the NCAA. There is much more to this than taxes.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      @pat Penn State is affiliated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is not a State school. They receive some state funding but that's it. Because of that Corbett's case might be thrown out because he lacks the grounds to sue.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      What I've always wondered how the NCAA could punish the school for criminal actions that had nothing to do with the school's football team itself and instead involved the actions of a coach(s.)

      Just seems to me that the NCAA wanted to jump on the bashing Penn State bandwagon and get some PR for itself by punishing them.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ariel

      The entire University must pay for his crimes. The students, the faculty, every one! I hope PA loses this fight. Take your medicine like a grown up.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • College Football Fan

      Pat – When you go to the "Full Story" link at the bottom, you can see that "David La Torre, a Penn State spokesman, said last year the school will not use tax or tuition dollars to pay the NCAA's $60 million fine."

      January 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      PSU's football program generated over $40 million in profit in 2011 (on almost $60 million revenue). Anyone trying to sell the fine as a "burden on taxpayers" is lying. At worst, it will delay any plans to build a new stadium by a few years.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • swingpsu

      This is pure political theater by Corbett as he begins his re-election reputation revival. The $60m fine comes out of Penn State Athletics which receives no state support. Penn State is not a state school, it is "state-related" with every diminishing state support, currently about 6% of total budget. As always, this is not about Penn State, or the Commonwealth of PA, it's all about Corbett's political future.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    First time I have to agree with something that Corbett has done.

    January 2, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Uarrntrite

      Second that.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Swell_swell

      I must disagree. The state of Pennsylvania has no standing in this issue. The NCAA sanctions do *nothing* to the "citizens" of Pennsylvania. Nor do they punish the students of Penn State directly – indirectly, yes because the students are expected to have school pride. But it does not affect the quality of their education. In fact, it may even improve their education by removing such dangerous individuals from the campus.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat.

      Reply to swell/swell.
      Taking 45 million dollars of taxpayer money out of Pennsylvania is out right fraud of Pa taxpayers....Nothing can justify that action. And trying to defend that as "educating" future or present students of PSU is just patronizing idiocy....Maybe you haven't noticed, but Sandusky won't be getting out of jail alive...Greedy, spitefulness isn't acceptable anywhere or from any one.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Again, Pat, none of the fines will be paid with either tuition or tax payer money. That has already been clarified.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sid Prejean

    Standing and cause of action, please?

    January 2, 2013 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Uarrntrite

      Apparently you can't read very well.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Colin

    The people of Pennsylvania still don't get it! Smh

    January 2, 2013 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • NSL

      @Colin, the people of PA most definitely get it. We abhor what has happened. We believe Penn State must substantially restructure the governance of the University. We believe that Penn State should suffer serious consequences for its actions and inactions. At the same time we believe that the actions of the NCAA were unlawful because they violated Penn States due process within the NCAA system, and because the NCAA seriously violated countless numbers of their own rules and regulations in judging Penn States actions, and in meting out the sanctions against the University.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat.

      Nearly 13 million people in Pa and you think you know them all? Sandusky won't be getting out of jail in this lifetime and the jury is still out on the handful of PSU leaders who 'might' have failed to do their job.
      The simplicity of your judgement shows your lack of compassion for the victims, of which the students of PSU have become by the NCAA.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Pat apparently cannot read.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frantz

    How much will cost the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to "fight" the sanctions by the NCAA?

    January 2, 2013 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Good question. And will they use tax payer money to do it? if so, Pat will be outraged!

      January 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NSL

    @Scuromondo, I don't agree, the problem with the sanctions is not the sanctions themselves, but the procedure used to judge Penn State, and hand out the sanctions, plus the legal basis for the sanctions.

    First, at no time has Penn State been accused of any specific violations of athletic rules and regulations. Second, the investigation was not conducted within prescribed NCAA guidelines for an investigation. Third, the sanctions were not meted out within NCAA rules. The person who made the sanctions' decisions was not legally empowered by the NCAA to mete out any punishment under the Bylaws of the NCAA. The NCAA has specific procedures in place and they were violated by the NCAA over and over again in this particular case.

    When governing bodies violate their own rules, that is the worst kind of abuse of power, as it means no one can expect a fair hearing and fair judgment.

    No one can argue that there should be serious repercussions for the way Penn State officials conducted business, and that real restructuring of the Penn State system isn't essential to hopefully ensure such conduct doesn't reoccur. The problem is that the governing body didn't follow their own rules and regulations in dealing with this difficult case, didn't provide for due process for Penn State and Penn State officials, and dramatically overstepped its authority under the law.

    Unfortunately, Penn State couldn't complain about the NCAA's egregious conduct considering their position. While I think Governor Corbett was complicit with Penn State while he was PA Attorney General, and is merely trying to deflect his own conduct in restricting the original investigation of the University and Sandusky, I believe the suit he is bringing against the NCAA is the correct thing to do. In addition, I hope that new PA Attorney General Kane, fully investigates Corbett's actions in the Sandusky/Penn State case and reveals just what his part in this horrible case was.

    January 2, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy G.

      Every organization that I've ever heard of that "self-regulates" abuses that "self-regulation" to the point of insanity.
      Penn State abused their ability by acting unethically and are now paying a very tiny and overly-lenient price.
      The NCAA also self-regulates, which means they can change the rules or ignore them whenever they feel it is justified.
      If it was up to me, NO organization would ever be allowed to be "self-regulating".
      Our government is not supposed to be, yet they ignore the law daily.
      The Bar associations of every state constantly violate their own rules of professional conduct, as does every other "professional" organization I can think of.
      One corrupt organization condemns another and what is accomplished?
      For Penn State, they get a tiny slap on the wrist.
      They deserve to be tossed out on their ears or put in prison (many of the people involved do, I mean).
      I have no doubt that the NCAA is just as corrupt and riddled with stories we'll never hear about, but in this case they can enforce their internal rules however they see fit.
      Don't like it? Then ban self-regulation. Ban bribery and unethical conduct to the point where it is actually rooted out instead of conveniently ignored. Otherwise you sound like you want special consideration when 99 percent of the world has to deal with extreme abuses and violations of their human and civil rights, like those CHILDREN had done to them while everyone else scurried off in the other direction. They should pay and you should not complain.

      January 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. neverodoreven

    The funny thing about this is, the NCAA punishes child molesters more stringently than the Roman Catholic Church. Sanctions against these schools SHOULD be that hard. Why? It sends a strong message to people who would prey on children.

    January 2, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Shuffler

      Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn protects it's child molesters. In the name of sports it seems that penn folks will let their children be at risk.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jeff walters

    Corbett turned a blind eye as attorney general to the abuse that occurred at Penn St. With his eye on the Governor's office, and not wanting to offend the many Penn St. loyalists/ voters, he refused to investigate these crimes, of which he was informed 3 years before their actual prosecution by his successor. Terrible, criminal, and amoral–more victims suffered as a result.

    January 2, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • FFighter46

      He didn't turn a blind eye becuase of the Penn State Alumns or Boosters.. His re-election campain got a $250Kfrom second mile not long after the investigation against sandusky was dropped! He was bribed by sandusky NOT PENN STATE!

      January 2, 2013 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. FFighter46

    This tool is one of those that was resposible for accepting the punishment to begin with. But now that nobody in PA support the sactions he all of a sudden says it's time to sue... I hope he wins but not at a cost of losing Bill O'Brian!

    January 2, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. huh?


    January 2, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • FFighter46

      Nobody here or anywhere is making applogies for Pedophiles.. You can drop that lame a $ $ line.. it's old and everyone is tired of it!

      January 2, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. shameful

    so there should be NO sanctions then? is pretty lame when all everyone is doing is worried about $$$ from their favorite football program. NO sanctions = NO apologies. And your tired of hearing about this "old issue" Stop thinking with your wallet and your favorite football team mentality.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      Should you be forced to suffer a sanction if someone on your block commits a crime?

      January 3, 2013 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Myron Pitts

    Can the NCAA kick PSU out, if the sanctions are overturned? What law says PSU must be in the NCAA?

    January 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • FFighter46

      Anti-Trust Laws

      January 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ted

    More over, given the wide spread sports / academic situation and University of North Carolina that the NCAA has chosen to ignore, the sanctions for Penn State seem a be capricious: Wide spread efforts to adjust grades and ensure athlete eligibility vs executive cover up of actions (as heinous as they are) unrelated to the sports program.

    Also, if those holds true, then any janitor who has a history of stealing and borrows the coaches keys (not even the locker room or sports rooms) and something goes missing at the 7/11, then the university involved needs NCAA sanctions: Athletic leaders aware, continued transgression, student athletes/coaches not involved = NCAA sanctions based on the Penn State litmus test.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jen

    Penn State agreed to the sanctions... how can they refute the agreement now? It was quite a shotgun marriage, but they wanted closure and they paid for that closure before this season started. The death penalty happened to to Baylor for far less. The NCAA does not have to let Penn State participate. Listen if Joe Pa had not covered for his buddy and got the rest of the hierarchy to go along, this never would have happened. The coverup is what got them... remember Watergate??? Just accept things and move on.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hey Joe

      PSU was forced to accept. It was accept or suspend football, the so called death penalty. Not really much of a choice there. Problem is NCAA never even did its own investigastion. Funny thing is the interim president that accepted the sacantions has announced he is leaving the university.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed B

    The Governor is right! This punish all for the ills of a few mentality infects our industry and government as well. It's time to punish people who DO things and stop punishing everyone. The NCAA is childish. Take away 109 wins! Are these people serious? The "smart" people? What? They simply vanished? The people who played in the games certainly don't deserve to have their wins erased. What of the 4 year bowl suspension? Nobody involved now has a dog i the fight. Why punish current and future PSU students? They had no hand in what happened. Punish those involved. Of wait, it looks like the state is doing that so far.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
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