Corman: ‘Today Is A Victory For Penn State Nation,’ Paterno Family Reacts to Settlement News
Pennsylvania State Sen. Jake Corman, who has established himself as Penn State’s knight in shining armor, addressed the media shortly after news broke that a settlement in his lawsuit against the NCAA would fully repeal the consent decree.
The agreement means that all 112 vacated football wins have been restored and the $60 million fine will stay in Pennsylvania to benefit victims of child sexual abuse.
“Today is a victory for due process. Today is a victory for the people of Pennsylvania. Today is a victory for Penn State Nation,” Corman said. “The NCAA has surrendered. This is a total repeal of the consent decree, not a settlement. This is akin to the mercy rule. Clearly [the NCAA]was way behind in the case and they gave up.”
“Penn State was and is a model athletic department for others to emulate,” Corman said. “But there were many young boys victimized by this monster. I’m not here to exonerate anybody.”
Corman emphasized that this “isn’t just an out-of-court settlement for victories,” saying that the $60 million staying within the commonwealth is the most important part of the agreement announced today. He called out the NCAA for financial motivations, stating that the athletic organization should consider putting some of the college basketball tournament money toward an important issue like child abuse.
“I feel a total victory today. The fact that the consent decree has been acknowledged as wrong and repealed is a victory for Pennsylvania. I can’t understand the motivations of the NCAA, but clearly if you follow the facts here, there was a manipulation of the process to get a quick outcome.”
Corman elaborated on that manipulation, discussing the possibility that NCAA President Mark Emmert mislead Penn State interim president Rodney Erickson when discussing the consent decree.
“I’m not here to criticize President Erickson,” Corman said. “He was put in an impossible situation.”
As the press conference winded down, one reporter asked Corman if he thinks the Paterno statue should go back up. He said that it was a matter for the board of trustees to decide, but offered a brief response.
“My own personal opinion? Yes,” he said.
Corman and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord first filed their now-defunct lawsuit over two years ago in an attempt to keep the NCAA's $60 million fine against Penn State within Pennsylvania. A trial had been scheduled for February to determine the validity of the consent decree -- which Penn State signed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, allowing the NCAA to impose a range of sanctions.
The Paterno family also released a statement on Friday afternoon in response to news of the settlement.
"Today is a great victory for everyone who has fought for the truth in the Sandusky tragedy. The repeal of the consent decree and the return of the wins to the University and Joe Paterno confirm that the NCAA and the Board of Trustees acted prematurely and irresponsibly in the unprecedented sanctions the NCAA imposed on the University, the players, coaches and the community," the news release says.
The statement goes on to say that this is about the "pursuit of truth" and not the "scapegoating of coaches, players, and administrators who were never given a chance to defend themselves." The Paterno family intends to push forward with its lawsuit against the NCAA in order to "continue the job of uncovering the full truth in this case."
Not everyone was as happy with the results of the Corman lawsuit as the Paterno family. Alumni interest group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, or PS4RS, spoke out against the settlement in a news release.
"Unfortunately, we cannot support an agreement that does not require the NCAA to acknowledge its wrongdoing," the statement says. "The NCAA had no authority to impose any sanctions on the university in connection with a criminal matter that has still not been adjudicated in a court law."
PS4RS went on to ask for an apology from the NCAA and an unambiguous retraction of the now voided consent decree.