Judges consider tossing $60M Penn State fund lawsuit

Associated Press
June 19, 2013
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A panel of Pennsylvania judges will soon decide whether to side with the NCAA and throw out a lawsuit filed by a state senator and the state treasurer over the massive fine imposed on Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The legal issue before Commonwealth Court is the NCAA's "preliminary objections" to the lawsuit, which seeks to force Penn State to pay the $60 million into a state government account.

The lawsuit by state Sen. Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord is part of an effort by many of Pennsylvania's top elected officials to ensure the money will be spent within the state rather than throughout the country, although in either case it will be spent on child abuse prevention and for its victims.

The consent agreement made last summer between the NCAA and Penn State directs that a task force will distribute the money, while a Corman-sponsored law enacted early this year would keep it in Pennsylvania and have it distributed by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The first of five $12 million payments has been set aside by Penn State but not paid to the NCAA.

NCAA lawyer Everett Johnson argued Wednesday that McCord and Corman lack legal standing, that the new law that Corman sponsored is unconstitutional and that Penn State's relevance to the case makes the university such an indispensable party that the case can't proceed without it.

Johnson said the new law, formally known as the Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act, "represents an expansive intrusion into the historical autonomy of Penn State," and argued it was "a self-evidently protectionist law" that violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Corman's lawyer Matt Haverstick told the court the General Assembly "gave itself the obligation and the burden" to put some rules in place for the money, which he said could be traced to taxpayers. Penn State is considered a state-related university but is not a state agency, even though it gets hundreds of millions of dollars in state support every year.

"It's not the NCAA's money," Haverstick said. "The consent decree says nothing about whose money it is."

The judges pressed Haverstick on why the plaintiffs did not also sue Penn State.

"No one ever sues Penn State in any of this litigation that's floating around," said Judge Dan Pellegrini. "Isn't your complaint with Penn State?"

Haverstick said both Penn State and the NCAA control where the money will go.

Haverstick said the case raised questions that will require more time to establish all the facts, and that courts must grant considerable deference to the General Assembly when the issue is whether one of its laws is constitutional.

Pellegrini told the lawyers the court would not rule for at least 48 hours so the parties could consider whether to participate in mediation.

Sandusky the school's former assistant football coach, was convicted a year ago of 45 counts of child abuse involving 10 boys. The 69-year-old is serving a 30-to-60-year state prison sentence but maintains his innocence and is pursuing appeals.


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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.