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NCAA Goes to Court Tuesday Asking Judge to Throw out Paterno Family Lawsuit

by on October 29, 2013 6:20 AM

The NCAA and the Paterno family will have their day in court Tuesday during a hearing on the Paterno family's lawsuit against the NCAA.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. The NCAA is fighting to have the Paterno lawsuit dismissed. The lawsuit, filed in May, asks to have the NCAA sanctions imposed on Penn State reversed. The sanctions, including a loss of football scholarships, a ban on postseason play and the vacating of 111 wins under Joe Paterno, were imposed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.

Several Penn State trustees, former Nittany Lion football players and university faculty members are also part of the Paterno's lawsuit. The defendants in the suit include the NCAA, NCAA President Mark Emmert and former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the NCAA Edward Ray.

The Paterno family argues that the NCAA breached its contract with Penn State because the organization did not conduct it's own investigation, relying instead, on Louis Freeh's report as a basis for the sanctions.

The NCAA claims that Penn State's own president Rodney Erickson signed the consent decree that allowed the sanctions. The NCAA also says that claims made by the Paterno family are baseless, and that the plaintiffs in the case weren't hurt themselves by the sanctions, and therefore have no legal standing to sue.

Lawyers for the NCAA also reject the allegation that the consent decree defames Penn State or the Paterno family.

Though the hearing has a lot to address, it is a relatively common aspect of civil cases.

Local attorney Matt McClenahen says preliminary objections are almost always filed in civil cases, and that the judge will typically not rule on them during the hearing.

"Cases are rarely thrown out on preliminary objections," McClenahen says. "Usually the courts will err in favor of letting case be heard on its merits."

Attorneys for both the Paterno family and the NCAA could not be reached immediately for comment.

Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, is serving a 30 to 60 year sentence after being convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse.

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Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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