NCAA and Legal Issues and College Sports and Law and Sports Business

NCAA asks court to toss suit over Sandusky fine

February 7, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association asked a federal judge to throw out a Pennsylvania lawsuit challenging penalties imposed on Pennsylvania State University over the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse case.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has no standing to bring the case and is seeking to undo an agreement “freely entered into” by Penn State, the Indianapolis-based NCAA said in a filing Thursday in federal court in Harrisburg, Pa.

“This lawsuit is an inappropriate attempt to drag the federal courts into an intra-state political dispute,” the NCAA said in the filing.

Corbett sued the NCAA last month challenging a $60 million fine levied against the school for its failure to prevent the sexual abuse by Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who was convicted of molesting 10 boys. The complaint accused the NCAA of using the Sandusky offenses as a “pretext” to impose unprecedented sanctions, which violates antitrust laws.

Pennsylvania law gives Penn State the authority to manage its own athletics program, voluntarily join the NCAA and agree to contracts, the NCAA said in its filing. Corbett, a member of the Penn State governing board that approved the NCAA agreement, is seeking to “usurp the discretion that the legislature delegated to PSU,” the NCAA said.

“The remedial measures that Penn State agreed to were controversial, and have elicited strong feelings on all sides,” the NCAA said. “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.”

In addition to the fine, the Indianapolis-based NCAA, the governing body for college sports, stripped Penn State of 112 football wins from 1998 through 2011 and barred the Nittany Lions from bowl games for four years, matching the longest post- season ban in NCAA history.

Pennsylvania will seek an injunction against all of the sanctions, James Schultz, Pennsylvania’s general counsel, said last month.

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