Commonwealth Court panel hears arguments on NCAA's $60 million Penn State fine

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HARRISBURG -- A Commonwealth Court panel will decide if a lawsuit against the NCAA that seeks to keep Penn State's $60 million post-Sandusky fine within Pennsylvania should go forward.

Attorneys for both the NCAA and state Sen. Jake Corman, who represents the State College area, and state Treasurer Rob McCord, the plaintiffs in the case, made arguments during a preliminary hearing before the seven-judge panel Wednesday.

Mr. Corman, R-Centre, and Mr. McCord want to see the $60 million fine owed by Penn State paid into the state treasury to be spent within Pennsylvania, as per a state law passed earlier this year.

But NCAA officials argue the case should be thrown out, as neither Mr. Corman nor Mr. McCord has standing to intervene in the agreement between the NCAA and Penn State.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal, Penn State agreed to pay $60 million -- about one year's gross football revenue -- into a fund that would aid programs for child sexual abuse victims nationwide. An NCAA-created task force, with members from universities, national nonprofits and the federal government, was put in place to oversee the funds, according to statements on the collegiate athletic association's website.

Penn State is not a party to the suit, a point several judges inquired about Wednesday.

"Isn't your complaint really with Penn State?" asked President Judge Dan Pellegrini, addressing Matt Haverstick, an attorney for Mr. Corman and Mr. McCord.

Mr. Haverstick said Penn State will not ultimately control how the $60 million is spent, but the NCAA will.

The litigation over the $60 million "puts the University between the proverbial rock and a hard place," an attorney for Penn State wrote in a letter to the court earlier this month, saying the school did not want to violate either the consent decree or the state law, and asking the parties to settle their dispute.

The university has "set aside the first $12 million to be paid in a low-risk, interest-bearing account pending further direction from the NCAA," according to the June 11 letter.

An NCAA spokesman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sandusky, 69, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

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Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise. First Published June 19, 2013 4:00 PM


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