Paterno family, Penn State group support Corbett lawsuit
A group of Penn State alumni and friends and the family of former head coach Joe Paterno lent their support to Gov. Tom Corbett within hours of his announcement that his office will file a lawsuit against the NCAA for landmark sanctions against the university.
Gov. Tom Corbett accused the NCAA of going outside its authority in punishing Penn State University following the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal earlier this year and confirmed his office is filing a federal lawsuit to overturn their sanctions against the school.
"I believe that the NCAA has no authority and operated outside of their own bylaws to issue these sanctions," Corbett said at an 11 a.m. press conference in Harrisburg.
Paterno's family said in a statement that Corbett "now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment," according to the Associated Press.
In July, the NCAA came down on Penn State's storied football program with what observers called the harshest punishment ever doled out to a college athletic program. Officials banned the school from bowl games for four years, leveled a $60 million fine against Penn State and limited scholarships.
Corbett said the penalties did nothing to punish former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky or school administrators who face charges for allegedly covering up his sexual abuse.
"They punished past, present and future students, student athletes, local residents and citizens of Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "I found myself asking the question: 'Why would the NCAA involve themselves in something already being handled in the courts?"
He said the complaint will be filed in federal court in Harrisburg. A state official added that the NCAA, a trade association made up of member universities, violated its own bylaws to punish Penn State. A group called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship also said it supports the lawsuit, but added that it still is concerned with what took Corbett so long to file the suit.
"We remain troubled why Governor Corbett, a Penn State Trustee himself, failed to ask questions and critically review the implications of the sanctions when they were originally presented. If he disapproved of the terms of the NCAA Consent Decree, or if he thought there was something illegal about them, why didn't he exercise his duty to act long before now?" the group said in a statement.
In response to the governor's announcement, an attorney for the NCAA called the lawsuit a "setback" to Penn State's efforts to move on and improve its environment.
"We are disappointed by the Governor's action today. 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," Donald M. Remy, NCAA Executive Vice President and General Counsel, said in a statement. "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. Today's announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University's efforts.”
Here are more highlights from the press conference.
Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or email@example.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.