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NCAA Asks to Drop Lawsuit Over Endowment Act

by on September 08, 2014 1:05 PM

In a surprising legal move the NCAA has decided to quit fighting a lawsuit over the $60 million dollar fine it slapped on Penn State.

In legal papers filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania late Friday, the NCAA asked to have the litigation declared moot.

In the filing the NCAA says it has advised Penn State that "payments by Penn State to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under the terms of the Endowment Act will satisfy Penn State's obligations under the July 2012 Consent Decree ..."

According to the legal documents, Penn State has told the NCAA it intends to make all required payments to the state.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Penn State is required to pay $60 million to create programs aimed at prevention of child abuse and treatment of child abuse victims.

Penn State signed the consent decree in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, agreeing to a number of sanctions including a ban on bowl games, the vacating of 111 wins under former football coach Joe Paterno, a loss of football scholarships and that $60 million fine.

The state legislature later passed a bill requiring the NCAA to spend the money in Pennsylvania. State Sen. Jake Corman and state Treasurer Robert McCord filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in an attempt to force the organization to spend the $60 million in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA had argued the state law is unconstitutional.

In April, the Commonwealth Court ruled the Endowment Act is constitutional and that ruling also appeared to question the validity of the consent decree as a whole.

In the court papers filed Friday, the NCAA says it strongly defends the consent decree. The NCAA also asked to withdraw legal documents filed in September 2013 which included a defense of the consent decree.

In a statement provided to StateCollege.com, the NCAA says it dropped its legal challenge in order to to provide millions of dollars in aid to survivors of child sexual abuse. "Continuing this litigation would have further delayed the distribution of the funds to sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine. Our legal case is strong, but we believe even more strongly in preventing child sexual abuse and aiding survivors."

Noting that the court has not yet ruled on its motion, the NCAA says, "This is also an important step toward Penn State's fulfillment of its obligations under the contractual consent decree it entered into with the NCAA."

The NCAA says once the commonwealth court agrees to declare the Corman lawsuit moot, it plans to withdraw a separate lawsuit filed in federal court. That lawsuit, which named Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials as defendants, asked to have the Endowment Act declared unconstitutional.

In a response, lawyers for Corman and McCord repeat their contention that the consent decree is invalid and should be struck down. However, since the NCAA is withdrawing its legal arguments they admit it's unlikely the consent decree issue will be addressed.

Discovery in the Corman suit was scheduled to be completed by Sept. 8 and a trial had been set to begin on Jan 6, 2015.

It's not clear when Commonwealth Judge Anne Covey might rule on the NCAA's request to declare the case moot.

A spokesperson for Sen. Corman says his office is waiting for Judge Covey's ruling before making any comment.

Editors Note: This story has been updated to include the statement from the NCAA.

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Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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