Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett tried to fend off criticism of his anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA in a host of media appearances this morning.
Since filing the suit Wednesday alleging that the NCAA placed “overreaching and unlawful sanctions” on Pennsylvania State University after the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case, Corbett has been criticized for reversing his previous positions on the sanctions, the timing of the filing and not informing the newly elected attorney general of the lawsuit. Corbett defended his actions on television, in radio interviews and through his Twitter account today.
On the Marty Griffin show on Pittsburgh’s KDKA 1020, the Republican governor said he initially welcomed the sanctions because he didn’t know the NCAA was overstepping its bounds.
“I did not have all the facts in front of me,” Corbett said. “I assumed they had followed the rules.”
The penalties levied by the NCAA for the university’s role in covering up the Sandusky case include a $60 million fine, a four-year ban from bowl games, a four-year reduction in the number of football scholarships and vacating winning seasons. Corbett contends the NCAA can only punish universities for recruitment, football or academic violations.
“I did not know the NCAA was not following their own rules at the time” of supporting the sanctions, Corbett said.
Corbett has also taken heat for hiring an outside firm to handle the suit and filing it as a new, Democratic attorney general is about to take office. He consulted with Attorney General Linda Kelly, but not incoming Attorney General Kathleen Kane, before filing.
“Linda Kelly knows more about this case than Kathleen Kane knows,” he said on KDKA’s Morning Show.
The governor acknowledged on the show that the decision to move forward with a lawsuit was made in late October. But the suit wasn’t filed until Wednesday, he said, because he didn’t want to interfere with the football season.
On Griffin’s show, Corbett said he was using an outside firm because he “wanted experts in the field” of anti-tax law.
Corbett also defended the lawsuit on his Twitter feed throughout the morning, saying students were “being punished unfairly” by the sanctions.
Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.