Gov. Corbett Explains Reasoning Behind NCAA Lawsuit
PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett announced he was filing a lawsuit on behalf of the state against the NCAA for its sanctions against Penn State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Corbett said the state would file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA to have all sanctions against Penn State University removed.
However, it did not take long for people to begin questioning where the lawsuit was coming from based on previous comments Corbett had made at the time the sanctions were announced.
On July 23, Corbett said, “The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university. Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”
Corbett spoke with KD Investigator Marty Griffin on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Thursday about those comments and what led to the lawsuit.
“What we looked at at the time, my opinion was Penn State belongs to the NCAA. If you belong to an association, you play by the rules of the association. What has changed is we started looking at exactly what the NCAA did. A lot of people came up to me saying the NCAA didn’t have the authority to do this. So, we started taking a look at it. If you look at their bylaws, under their bylaws any punishments are not to be issued by the president. They are to be issued by the infractions and rules committee of the NCAA after a thorough investigation and you I both know the NCAA did no investigation on this,” Corbett said.
Griffin: Is it fair to suggest you changed your mind sir?
Corbett: It grew into a different position than what it was originally because I thought they had been playing by the rules. If the NCAA isn’t playing by the rules, then why do you accept the penalties?
Corbett went on to say that the impact felt by the people of Pennsylvania will be felt for many years even after the sanctions expire.
“The NCAA by not following its own rules has really harmed the people of Pennsylvania, the economic engine that Penn State is. That harm isn’t just today and the four years during the sanctions, but for years thereafter because they are going to harm the overall program for many, many years because of the lack of quality players they will have and you can just look at the total effect it’s going to have on the community and it already has had,” Corbett said.
Griffin: How has it had an effect on the community? Their games are sold out, the restaurants are packed, I have family that go there. It’s a crazy engine that keeps moving and why should the governor in whether or not a diner sells omelets on Saturday?
Corbett: In this case, if you talk to the people of central Pennsylvania, they will tell you and we had many of them with us there, the businesses they saw a drop off in attendance during football weekends. They saw a drop off of business activities there during that period of time and they continued to see that drop off. We’ve talked to the Chamber of Commerce, they’re working on a study that believe will show that drop off.
Griffin: The history of your success is immeasurable. So, that being said, it would be slightly naïve for me not to believe you’re sitting on the board, you’re an attorney, you’re a bright man, you have more information than anyone I’ve ever know and you don’t think when they approved these sanctions and you’re on the board. So, you’re one of the people who said, ‘Okay let’s accept these sanctions.’ At the time, you didn’t think there was a problem here and suddenly you had an epiphany, sir, that there was a problem. That’s what stings with a lot of people.
Corbett: I’m not going to be able to change people’s opinions on that as I did not know the NCAA was not following their rules at the time this was going forward. They were presented with these sanctions. We do need to heal up there. Penn state has been doing a great job going through the healing process.
Some have speculated that this lawsuit is a measure of damage control being taken by Corbett.
“That is not the case as far as I’m concerned,” Corbett said.
Griffin: You have never let politics or pressure from other suggesting Penn State got shafted here apply in your decision?
Corbett: I’m [going to] have a hard time convincing anyone otherwise, but I know why I made this decision and it’s because I believe it’s in the best interest of Pennsylvania and I believe it’s in the best interest of the past, present and future students and athletes at Penn State University.
Griffin: For folks that suggest that Penn state has already been beat up enough and felt enough pain and that this just exacerbates it and drags it on for several more years, what do you say governor?
Corbett: I can’t deal with what everybody else is going to say out there about how long this is going to go. I made an effort trying to bring this to a conclusion, trying to bring the NCAA in line with their own guidelines and their own rules and regulations.
Listen to the full interview here: