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Gov. Corbett: PSU Sanctions Were Overreaching & Unlawful

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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STATE COLLEGE (KDKA) – Gov. Tom Corbett had some harsh words for the NCAA while announcing an anti-trust lawsuit Wednesday morning.

Corbett addressed the media around 11 a.m. and announced the state would file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA to have all sanctions against Penn State University removed.

“After months of research and deliberation the Commonwealth’s attorneys and I have concluded that the NCAA’s sanctions were overreaching and unlawful and later today, we will file a federal anti-trust lawsuit on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania against the NCAA asking the court to throw out all of the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State,” Gov. Corbett said.

In addition to $60 million in fines, the NCAA imposed a four-year postseason ban, drastically reduced athletic scholarships and vacated football victories under late head coach Joe Paterno.

“Our complaint states that the NCAA forced Penn State’s new president to agree to its sanctions under threat of the death penalty for the Penn State football program for four years. It did so without conducting its own investigation and without following its own rules for reviewing potential infractions by its members,” Corbett said.

  • Watch the full press conference:

Corbett said a handful of top NCAA officials inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police under their own bylaws.

“They used Penn State’s tarnished public image as an opportunity to force the university to endure harsh, unjustified and unprecedented punishments,” Gov. Corbett said. “The message was clear. Accept these unprecedented sanctions and ignore the NCAA’s flagrant disregard for its own procedures, or Penn State would wish it had.”

Gov. Corbett went on to say that the university has a moral obligation to the victims and the community in the wake of the scandal.

Should the lawsuit be successful, Corbett suggested the university take the $60 million from the sanction and use it to continue the work they have been doing with groups such as the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

“With that said though, the NCAA shouldn’t have sanctioned Penn State. I believe, and our suit contends, that the NCAA had no authority and operated outside of their own bylaws with these sanctions that they brought. This was a criminal matter, not a violation of NCAA rules,” Corbett said.

Before reporters could ask the question, Corbett gave reasons for waiting this long to file the lawsuit.

“First, I wanted to thoroughly research the issue and make sure that we were on solid legal footing. I also didn’t want to make the same mistake the NCAA made by carelessly rushing in. Two, I didn’t want to file during the football season. I didn’t want to take away from the football team’s momentum and the great work done by coach O’Brien and the student athletes who chose to stay,” Corbett said.

“The only logical conclusion is that the NCAA [handed down the sanctions] because they benefited from the penalties and because the leadership of the NCAA believed that they could,” Corbett said.

Before Corbett announced the lawsuit, the family of Joe Paterno issued a statement which said:

“As we have not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit filed by Gov. Corbett today, we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation. What we do know, however, is that this matter is far from closed. The fact that Gov. Corbett now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment is encouraging.

Joe Paterno’s only guidance to us was to seek the truth. Consequently, last July when the Freeh Report was released and the subsequent unprecedented and unjustified actions were taken by the Penn State University Board and the NCAA, we stated that we would engage a team of experts to conduct a careful and thoughtful review of the Freeh inquiry and the actions of the Board and the Administration. That process is nearing completion. We expect to release the analysis of the experts in the near future. At that time we will address all of the issues of the past year in a comprehensive manner.”

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