State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

NCAA Sues Gov. Corbett Over Law to Keep $60 Million In State

by on February 20, 2013 5:17 PM

The NCAA filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tom Corbett and other officials in the Commonwealth only hours after the governor signed into law legislation to keep Penn State's $60 million fine within Pennsylvania. 

According to the lawsuit, the NCAA is suing Corbett over his attempt to "negate a valid contract" – that contract being the consent decree Penn State and the NCAA signed, agreeing to the terms of the university's sanctions, in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Harrisburg Wednesday, cites as defendants Corbett, Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Mark Zimmer and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who was sworn into his role in January. 

The NCAA also alleges Corbett is attempting to "disrupt interstate commerce by attempting to legislate where private parties spend their money, and to confiscate funds intended for the victims of child sexual abuse nationwide to be used solely for the benefit of Pennsylvania residents, at the direction of Pennsylvania officials.  The Pennsylvania Institution of Higher Education Consent Decree Endowment Act violates the United States Constitution and cannot be enforced," per the lawsuit.

Corbett signed into law Wednesday legislation that was designed to keep Penn State's $60 million fine within the state. The fine, which was included in Penn State's sanctions, is to be put into an endowment that will benefit programs that support victims of sexual abuse. 

The governor sued the NCAA on Jan. 2 in an effort to have Penn State's sanctions overturned. Corbett said 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.  

The NCAA released a statement on its website Wednesday night and posted a link to its lawsuit

"State governments can't simply pass laws to rewrite private agreements and divert private money to their own coffers," said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. "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. The state has attempted to grant itself the ability to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. The United States Constitution does not permit this kind of legislative overreach."

"It's important that all of our members abide by the same rules to which they have voluntarily agreed," said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. "If individual members or state lawmakers take it upon themselves to decide what sanctions are appropriate, simply to protect their home team, then collegiate sports would be dramatically altered," the statement said. 

Penn State paid its first $12 million installment in an escrow account on Dec. 20. The NCAA agreed not to move the money until a lawsuit filed by Pa. Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) contesting where the fund go was settled. 

NCAA v. Corbett by

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