The NCAA wasted no time in challenging a new Pennsylvania law designed to keep the $60 million Penn State fine over the Jerry Sandusky scandal in the state, filing a federal challenge to the legislation hours after Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law Wednesday.
State and federal lawmakers have objected to use of the NCAA fine to finance child abuse prevention efforts in other states.
The complaint asks a federal judge to throw out the Pennsylvania Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act, saying it violates provisions of the U.S. Constitution. It also asks for an injunction to prevent enforcement of the law.
Defendants in the lawsuit are Corbett and three state officials who would be involved in handling or monitoring the money: the auditor general, treasurer and chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Penn State signed a consent decree in which it agreed to the fine, a four-year football bowl ban and other penalties shortly after a scathing report into how school officials handled reports that Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was behaving inappropriately with children. He was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.
“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.
NCAA President Mark Em-mert released a statement saying it was important that the organization’s members abide by its rules and that college sports would be “dramatically altered” if others are responsible for deciding appropriate penalties.
Penn State, which has made the first of five $12 million payments, is not a party to the litigation. An NCAA task force will determine how the money is spent.
In January, Corbett filed his own federal lawsuit in the matter, accusing the NCAA of antitrust violations and seeking to have all of the consent decree’s penalties thrown out. A request by the NCAA to have that case dismissed is pending.
Also Wednesday, the NCAA told two Pennsylvania congressmen it disagrees with their argument that taking some football scholarships away from Penn State unfairly punished innocent student-athletes.
Reps. Charlie Dent and Glenn Thompson released a letter from Emmert that said no Penn State athletes lost scholarships and that each athlete remains eligible for a scholarship at Penn State or another school.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.