The National Collegiate Athletic Association has taken issue with a lawsuit filed against it
by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett that alleges the sports association violated federal antitrust laws when it instituted hefty sanctions on Penn State University following the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
In a statement released to the media Jan. 2, the NCAA’s top attorney expressed disappointment with the commonwealth’s civil action, calling the suit “meritless” and an “affront” to Sandusky’s victims.
“We are disappointed by the Governor’s action [Wednesday],” NCAA Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Donald M. Remy, said in his statement. “Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy – lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky.
“While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward,” Remy continued. “The announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University’s efforts.”
Corbett claims in his lawsuit that the NCAA’s sanctions were too harsh, and have the ability to adversely affect the commonwealth as a whole.
Examples of those who would be affected by the sanctions – they included a $60 million fine, a ban on future play and the elimination of about 100 past wins – included businesses in the State College, Pa. area and servers who would make money working at bars and restaurants in the areas surrounding the university, which rakes in big dollars during collegiate football season.
The lawsuit primarily accuses the NCAA of violating federal antitrust laws, which are designed to cut down on anti-competitiveness and monopolies.
The NCAA, its attorney said, denies that its true motives in issuing the sanctions against Penn State were to “gain leverage in the court of public opinion, boost the reputation and power of the NCAA’s president, enhance the competitive position of certain NCAA members, and weaken a fellow competitor.”
In its own statement issued following the lawsuit’s filing, Penn State emphasized that the suit is the governor’s, and the governor’s alone, and stressed that the school is not a party to the litigation.
Penn State officials vowed to continue abiding by the consent decree between the university and the NCAA.
Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions football team, was convicted on 45 counts of child sex-abuse following a jury trial in Centre County this past summer.
In October, Judge John M. Cleland, an out-of-county jurist specially assigned to preside over the case, sentenced Sandusky to between 30 and 60 years in state prison.
Sandusky’s lawyers have since appealed the former assistant coach’s conviction and punishment.
The child molestation scandal led to the firing of longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, who died shortly after his termination.
The case also led to criminal charges being filed against three former high-up Penn State officials: former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former athletic director Timothy Curley.
All three currently await trial.