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Judge Denies Request For Mediation Between Corman, NCAA

by on December 11, 2014 9:14 AM

Attorneys for State Sen. Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord claim they can reach a peaceful agreement with the NCAA, but Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey doesn't buy it.

Last month, attorneys for Corman and McCord wrote a letter to the chief clerk of the Commonwealth Court, asking to move their lawsuit with the NCAA into the court's mediation program in hopes of a settlement. The letter claimed the parties had "seen significant movement" on their differences, putting the dispute "within reach of a mediated resolution." 

On Wednesday Judge Covey replied, essentially telling the two state officials that if they want to mediate with the NCAA, then they'll have to do it themselves.

"Plaintiffs and PSU have presented no new information demonstrating the parties are closer to reaching an agreement nor has the NCAA joined in this mediation request," Covey writes in her memorandum. "Thus, the Court is wary of taking unwarranted action which may result in a lengthy delay of the trial."

Judge Covey points out that even if she won't meditate between Corman, McCord, the NCAA and nominal defendant Penn State, that doesn't prevent the parties from working with a private mediator, filing a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit or specially requesting a settlement hearing with the judge.

Corman and McCord sued the NCAA in Commonwealth Court last year in an attempt to keep the NCAA's $60 million fine against Penn State within Pennsylvania. Penn State was added as a nominal defendant to the suit in January. The NCAA wants to distribute the funds from its fine nationally, and has filed a separate lawsuit in federal court toward that end.

The consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State has become a focus of the lawsuit in Commonwealth Court. Penn State signed the consent decree in July 2012, which allowed the NCAA to impose its fine and other sanctions against the university. Judge Covey has set a January trial date to determine if the consent decree is a legally binding document, which she says is the deadline for the parties to settle their disputes on their own.

"The trial date serves as the demarcation in time before which the parties have to settle their differences; thereafter, the court decides the parties' dispute," Covey writes.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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