Corbett loses motion to dismiss NCAA suit over Penn State fine

By Jim Boyle | Jun 17, 2014

It may not be taking place on the football field, but the back and forth between the NCAA

It may not be taking place on the football field, but the back and forth between the NCAA

and Pennsylvania government officials over how to spend Penn State's $60 million fine sanctioned by the collegiate sports organization has been equally fierce.

The latest development had Governor Tom Corbett's motion to dismiss the NCAA's federal suit denied by U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane last Thursday, allowing the NCAA to continue its bid to challenge the constitutionality of a law passed by the state assembly called the Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act.

That law, introduced by State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Benner), requires any fines of more than $10 million collected from a Pennsylvania university that receives state funding to be spent in the commonwealth. The bill was proposed and passed in direct response to the NCAA's massive $60 million sanction against Penn State following a scathing report released by Louis Freeh, who investigated the events surrounding the sexual abuse perpetrated by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The criminal court sentenced Sandusky to 30 to 60 years in state prison for molesting minor boys, while the Freeh Report took university officials to task for their lack of action to stop Sandusky's actions. The NCAA punished the college with the fine, plus a four-year ban on post-season play, a four-year reduction of grants-in-aid, four years of probation, and the vacation of sports wins dating back to 1998.

According to the complaint filed by the NCAA against Corbett, State Treasurer Rob McCord, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Mark Zimmer, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Endowment Act unlawfully interfered with a valid contract between two private entities.

The NCAA says that the funding Penn State receives from the commonwealth is negligible and does not give legislators the power to put themselves between its consent decree with the university.

"As Senator Corman’s memorandum and the act’s provisions make clear, the
obvious and explicit purpose of the Act was to seize the NCAA’s fine and redirect it only to
Pennsylvania causes," wrote the plaintiffs in the original complaint filed in February 2013.

The NCAA plans to use the money to fund child abuse recovery programs nationwide, while state lawmakers want to keep that money in Pennsylvania. Judge Kane ordered both parties to prepare for a telephone conference update on Aug. 14.

The orders come just days after the Commonwealth Court set a trial date of Jan. 6, 2015, for a separate suit filed by McCord seeking to spend that $60 million fine in Pennsylvania.

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