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Paterno Estate Renews Fight to Release Documents in NCAA Lawsuit

by on January 20, 2015 10:29 AM

One lawsuit involving the National Collegiate Athletic Association may have reached a settlement, but that hasn't stopped the Paterno estate from moving forward with its own litigation.

The estate of former Penn State Head Football Coach Joe Paterno has renewed its attempts to have a gag order lifted in its lawsuit against the NCAA in new court documents filed Friday. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit -- which also includes Penn State trustee Al Clemens and former assistant football coaches Jay Paterno and William Kenney -- want the same amount of freedom to release information that the NCAA was granted in a different lawsuit.

The lawsuit brought against the NCAA by Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman and Treasurer Rob McCord reached a settlement last week, but both sides in the case released numerous documents to the public in the months before the agreement was negotiated. The plaintiffs in the Paterno lawsuit argue that many facts of both cases overlap, even though documents in the Paterno lawsuit are suppressed by a court order.

Lawyers for the Paterno estate have made several filings asking the judge to modify the protective order in the case to allow the plaintiffs to release documents to the public. The NCAA and Penn State, which are both defendants in the case, have opposed this request, arguing that releasing documents would only serve to unfairly sway public opinion.

The Paterno side of the lawsuit disagrees, calling the restriction an "unfair, asymmetrical burden."

"[None of the defendants] offers any response to the fact that although the NCAA justified the need for the protective order... based on its purported concern that this case should not be litigated through the media, the NCAA itself has subsequently done exactly that in connection with the Corman v. NCAA litigation, where no protective order prohibits the NCAA from disclosing discovery materials," Friday's filing reads.

The Paterno estate points out that its request wouldn't strike the entire order, only remove a particular paragraph. This would not impact any documents marked as confidential, which would remain out of the public eye.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit sued the NCAA in Centre County Court in 2013, arguing that the NCAA overstepped its authority by sanctioning Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The plaintiffs seek monetary relief for allegations that the NCAA damaged the value of the Paterno estate and made it more difficult for Paterno and Kenney to find work.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for 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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