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Governor's Office: Corbett Never 'Embraced' NCAA Penalties

by on January 03, 2013 1:42 PM

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett condemned the NCAA sanctions dealt to Penn State as 'overreaching and unlawful,' but in July, he said accepting the penalties was 'part of the corrective process.' 

The governor's office, however, refutes the claim that the Corbett flip-flopped on his attitude toward the sanctions. 

"The governor didn't embrace the sanctions. He said Penn State would have to accept them. Penn State had to accept some responsibility," Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said Thursday. "He was highly critical of [the sanctions]."

During a press conference on Wednesday morning at the Nittany Lion Inn, Corbett announced an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, asking the court to overturn all of the sanctions levied against the university in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. 

According to the lawsuit, the NCAA, a trade association, violated its own bylaws when it announced unprecedented penalties against Penn State without ever disclosing an actual rule that Penn State had broken. 

On July 23, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the sanctions: Penn State football was banned from postseason play for four years, scholarships were revoked, wins under former head coach Joe Paterno between 1998-2011 were vacated and the university was fined $60 million that will be paid into an endowment. 

That same day, Corbett released a statement that said Penn State should accept the sanctions so it can begin to move forward and on from the scandal. 

"Penn State is more than football – it is a world-class university, providing an outstanding education to our young people in a variety of areas, from scientific research and engineering to the arts and humanities. 

"I am confident that the university will move forward from this experience, complete the healing process and once again be worthy of its great reputation," Corbett said in a press release. 

Meanwhile, the governor's attorneys started their research in the summer, Harley said, and came to some of the conclusions Corbett announced yesterday. 

"When [Corbett] started doing research, he saw that the NCAA did not abide by the rules," Harley said. 

Researchers also examined the impact the sanctions will have on the Commonwealth. On Wednesday, Corbett's office said the 'collateral damage' amassed by the state will exceed the cost of the lawsuit, though no concrete figures were released. 

More findings will be released as legal proceedings continue, Harley said, and the collateral damage will be assessed. 

"That will certainly be coming as we go forward – businesses may not hire as many employees if there's a downturn in the economy," Harley said. "There will be more evidence as we move forward."

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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