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Paterno Family Asks Judge to Lift Gag Order in NCAA Lawsuit

by on November 24, 2014 6:20 PM

In legal documents filed Friday, attorneys representing the Paterno family ask a judge to tear up a gag order.

That gag order is supposed to prevent anyone involved in the Paterno family lawsuit against the NCAA from talking about the case publicly.

But the plaintiffs claim there is a lot of material making its way into news reports, due to a second lawsuit against the NCAA.

The Paterno estate, former university trustee Al Clemens and former football coaches Jay Paterno and William Kenney are all suing the NCAA and Penn State.

Their lawsuit asks for monetary damages and to have the consent decree Penn State signed with the NCAA overturned. The consent decree paved the way for the NCAA to impose harsh sanctions on Penn State's football program. That included the loss of scholarships, a ban on bowl appearances, the vacation of 111 wins under former head coach Joe Paterno, and a $60 million fine.

The gag order in that case says that pre-trial discovery material has to be kept confidential.

However, attorneys for the Paterno family claim the NCAA essentially violated that order, because it "selectively released discovery materials" as part of a separate lawsuit filed by state senator Jake Corman.

Corman's lawsuit was filed in an attempt to force the NCAA to obey the Endowment Act -- legislation that requires that the $60 million fine the NCAA imposed on Penn State be spent within the state. The NCAA argues that law is unconstitutional.

Attorney's representing the Paterno family point out that no protective order was issued in the Corman case. They argue that the facts in the Paterno lawsuit are similar to the Corman case. Their motion says, "As a result of the NCAA's actions of using the Corman suit to post selective discovery materials to sway public opinion, and the Plaintiffs being precluded from doing so ... the potential for tainting a jury pool would occur only to the detriment of the Plaintiffs."

It's not clear when a ruling might be made concerning the request to lift the gag order.

An NCAA spokesperson declined to comment on the request to lift the gag order.


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Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of 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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