HARRISBURG -- In a blow to the NCAA, a state court has ruled that a lawsuit by two Pennsylvania officials to keep Penn State University's landmark $60 million fine in-state can proceed.
The fine was imposed by the collegiate athletic association in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, while the bipartisan suit was filed earlier this year by Republican state Sen. Jake Corman, who represents the State College area, and Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord.
Mr. Corman and Mr. McCord are pushing for the $60 million fine to be spent within Pennsylvania, as per a state law passed earlier this year. Penn State is not a party to the lawsuit.
But NCAA officials had argued the case should be thrown out, as neither Mr. Corman nor Mr. McCord has standing to intervene in the agreement reached between the NCAA and Penn State after the Sandusky scandal that required $60 million -- about one year's gross football revenue -- to go to a fund that would aid programs for child sexual abuse victims nationwide.
The NCAA issued only a brief statement Wednesday in response to the Commonwealth Court's ruling.
"We are reviewing the Court's opinion in detail and will decide next steps after we have had an opportunity to consider all of the options available," said an email from Donald Remy, chief legal officer for the NCAA.
Mr. McCord's office released a statement that said the ruling represented "an important victory in our fight to make sure Pennsylvania money is spent to benefit and protect Pennsylvania children.
"At any time -- but especially when our state's spending on social services is being eviscerated -- we should not cede large sums of public money to the NCAA to spend elsewhere ... Sen. Corman and I have never disputed the intention to spend the money on child abuse prevention and victim assistance. But I know this money should stay in Pennsylvania, and the NCAA should not be exempt from complying with Pennsylvania law."
Mr. Corman agreed.
"As I have said from the beginning, the fine money is being derived in Pennsylvania and consequently altering the public mission of a state related university that receives public funds," Mr. Corman said. "It makes perfect sense that the money should therefore stay in Pennsylvania."
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise. First Published September 4, 2013 5:45 PM