HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania attorney general said today she authorized the governor's general counsel to pursue a lawsuit against the NCAA because ongoing criminal cases against Penn State University administrators could present a conflict.
Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday his administration would ask a federal judge to throw out the NCAA sanctions against Penn State as a result of the Jerry Sandusky case. The governor had sought authority from outgoing Attorney General Linda Kelly to pursue the lawsuit.
In a statement released this afternoon, Ms. Kelly said the pending criminal cases against three Penn State administrators were "an important factor" in choosing to delegate authority to the administration.
"We recognized that an actual conflict of interest could, and likely would, arise if this office were involved in both cases," Ms. Kelly said in the statement. "The size and scope of that criminal case, which includes extensive grand jury testimony and other confidential information related to the university, made it untenable for the Office of Attorney General to pursue a civil lawsuit involving the NCAA's sanctions of Penn State."
The Office of Attorney General is prosecuting Penn State former athletic director Tim Curley, retired vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz, and former university president Graham Spanier on charges of conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and obstruction of justice for allegedly not reporting suspected child abuse by Sandusky.
Mr. Corbett referred to the pending cases when asked during a news conference Wednesday why his office -- not the attorney general -- was pursuing the lawsuit.
"They have a great deal of work on their shoulders, including the actual prosecution of the criminal case that's ongoing," he said.
Mr. Corbett was attorney general before he was elected governor and nominated Ms. Kelly to serve the remainder of his term as attorney general. Incoming attorney general Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who takes office later this month, campaigned against Mr. Corbett's handling of the investigation in the Sandusky case.
Laura Olson contributed. Karen Langley: email@example.com or 717-787-2141.