Oh, the Jerry Sandusky fun never stops. In recent developments, Gov. Tom Corbett announced a lawsuit against the NCAA, challenging its authority to impose a $60 million fine and four years of probation on Penn State and its football team. (We explained last week why that might not work.) This week, Pennsylvania legislators approved a bill requiring the NCAA to spend the entirety of the fine in state.
Late Wednesday, the NCAA struck back:
The NCAA on Wednesday sued Pennsylvania hours after Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law mandating that all of Penn State’s $60 million fine for the Jerry Sandusky child-rape scandal be spent in the state.
The NCAA claims the law is unconstitutional, arguing that Pennsylvania officials cannot dictate or limit how and where the college athletics governing body spends the money. An NCAA task force has been drafting guidelines for how to spend the fine, which the sports authority levied last summer in a consent decree with the university.
“By seizing the funds and restricting eligibility to benefit from the funds only to Pennsylvania programs benefiting only Pennsylvania residents, the act will defeat the consent decree’s plain terms and frustrate the parties’ intended purpose,” the NCAA’s lawyers wrote.
The lawsuit claims the new legislation is unconstitutional because it directs state officials to collect money to which the state is not entitled. It argues the state has no legal right to abridge the contract between the NCAA and Penn State and says the new law tries to regulate transactions by out-of-state entities in violation of the Commerce Clause.
“The NCAA has lost sight of the children and really needs to get its priorities in check,” said a statement released by Maribeth Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.
“The fines, if they are even deemed legal to be levied at all, should be used to put a copy of Jim Clemente’s video into the hands of every single parent to learn how to identify the characteristics of child sexual predators.”
She was referring to a former FBI profiler who contributed to a 200-plus-page analysis released earlier this month on behalf of the family of late football coach Joe Paterno. The analysis challenged the Penn State-commissioned Freeh report and its findings that Mr. Paterno and other Penn State leaders took part in a cover up of Sandusky’s crimes.
Corbett, during an editorial board session with PennLive Wednesday, said he was not surprised that the law would bring a challenge from the NCAA, but he said he felt it was a risk worth taking for Pennsylvania.
“It merits our trying to keep the money in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.
“They (the NCAA) are getting it from the state university. The idea of spreading it around the country, when you could concentrate it here in Pennsylvania – where obviously the reporting wasn’t as it should have been – makes perfect sense to me.”