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Trustees Hopeful Judge Will Rule Against NCAA and Keep Corbett's Case Alive

by on May 22, 2013 5:40 AM

Now that Gov. Tom Corbett's lawsuit has gone to court, members of the Penn State Board of Trustees are speaking out. Several trustees were in court Monday as the NCAA asked a federal judge to throw out Corbett's antitrust lawsuit. The suit claims the harsh sanctions the NCAA imposed on Penn State will harm the state's economy.

University trustees Al Clemens, Ira Lubert, Anthony Lubrano, Ted Brown and Bill Oldsey all made the trip to Harrisburg.

Oldsey said after listening to two hours' worth of arguments, he agrees that the NCAA took the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and used it as an opportunistic situation. 

"The NCAA has a very specific set of rules that they use for their sanctioning," Oldsey said. "The things that they chose to sanction Penn State over has nothing to do with their rules. It was a 'general mission statement' kind of thing. They went away from their rules."

Corbett filed the antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA on Jan. 2. That was five months after Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed a consent decree agreeing to the NCAA's sweeping sanctions.

Those penalties included a $60 million fine, a reduction in scholarships and a four-year postseason ban for the football team. All wins under former head coach Joe Paterno between 1998-2011 were vacated.

"I think if they followed specific rules for why they sanction schools – what happened with Jerry Sandusky went way outside," Oldsey said. 

Oldsey believes the NCAA essentially tossed its rulebook "out the window." 

"One of the attorney's statements I thought was very interesting. The NCAA Committee on Infractions made up of 70-80 percent attorneys, and [the sanctions] didn't go through that committee," he said. 

Lubrano, who strongly supports Corbett's antitrust lawsuit, said he's cautiously optimistic that judge Yvette Kane will rule in favor of the Commonwealth. Lubrano and Oldsey said they were impressed by the judge's preparation and multi-pronged questions.

The details of the case are complex and both parties argued over how Penn State is currently competing in major markets post-scandal. 

"If you listened carefully, you heard some comments by the judge ... it was clear to me this was going to be an interesting hearing," Lubrano said. "In large part, I felt it would hinge on whether the judge was fully engaged. There's no doubt that [Kane] ... was extremely well prepared."

Meanwhile, the board members say they've heard from Penn State alumni, expressing their thanks for attending. 

"I did get a number of emails saying 'Thanks, we're glad you were there.' The hearing was impressive. I'm glad I was there," Oldsey said. 

Lubrano said he also wanted to go to "educate himself." He said, "The ramifications of a successful outcome are far-reaching and they extend to Penn State. I had a share of responsibility upon me to be present and to understand the arguments," Lubrano said. 

No ruling was made Monday and Kane said she should make a decision in the coming weeks. 

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