NCAA sues to keep Pennsylvania government out of Penn State settlement
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HARRISBURG -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association has asked a federal court to strike down a new state law requiring that Penn State University fine in the Jerry Sandusky case be spent within Pennsylvania.
As part of the NCAA sanctions as a result of the scandal, the university agreed to pay $60 million to create an endowment for programs related to child sexual abuse. Earlier today, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill requiring proceeds from that fine to be spent in Pennsylvania.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, has said he was told the NCAA would commit only 25 percent of the fine to Pennsylvania organizations.
The legislation sailed through the state Senate, 50-0, and the House of Representatives, 194-2.
In its lawsuit, the NCAA claims the state legislation attempts to negate a contract between the NCAA and Penn State, disrupt interstate commerce and confiscate money intended for victims of child sexual abuse nationwide.
"State governments can't simply pass laws to rewrite private agreements and divert private money to their own coffers," Donald Remy, chief legal officer for the NCAA, said in a statement. "This is an important principle of federal constitutional law that affects not just the NCAA, but also any party seeking to do business with a state-related or private entity."
Last month, Mr. Corbett announced his own lawsuit against the NCAA contesting the Penn State sanctions, which also include a four-year ban on postseason play, a four-year reduction in the number of players on scholarship and the forfeiture of all Penn State football wins from 1998 to 2011.
Asked whether Penn State had a position on where the fine should be spent or a reaction to the NCAA lawsuit, spokesman David La Torre replied, "We don't have a comment."
The NCAA lawsuit names Mr. Corbett, state Treasurer Rob McCord, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Mark Zimmer, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, all in their official capacities.
"Treasurer McCord intends vigorously to defend his statutory authority as custodian of the endowment fund and his responsibility to ensure its distributions are made in a manner directed by the Pennsylvania Legislature," said Gary Tuma, spokesman for Mr. McCord.
And an alumni group that last July objected to Penn State's decision to accept the NCAA sanctions had sharp words for the NCAA.
"The NCAA has lost sight of the children and really needs to get its priorities in check," said a statement released by Maribeth Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.
"The fines, if they are even deemed legal to be levied at all, should be used to put a copy of Jim Clemente's video into the hands of every single parent to learn how to identify the characteristics of child sexual predators."
She was referring to a former FBI profiler who contributed to a 200-plus-page analysis released earlier this month on behalf of the family of late football coach Joe Paterno. The analysis challenged the Penn State-commissioned Freeh report and its findings that Mr. Paterno and other Penn State leaders took part in a cover up of Sandusky's crimes.
"Short of that," Ms. Schmidt continued, referring to Mr. Clemente's video, "this is a ridiculous sideshow that's horribly unbecoming to the parties involved."
First Published February 20, 2013 6:43 pm