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PA to file suit against NCAA over Penn State sanctions

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2013 will not be a year for turning corners in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky Scandal and Penn State.

Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel reported Tuesday morning that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is planning to file a lawsuit against the NCAA to challenge the sanctions levied against Penn State over the summer in the wake of the Freeh Report. According to Thamel, Penn State is not involved in preparing the suit. An announcement was later confirmed for Wednesday, but no one fromPSU or the NCAA has commented on the matter.

Governor Tom Corbett (pictured) was Attorney General for Pennsylvania when his office began the investigation into allegations that Sandusky, a longtime Penn State assistant football coach, had sexually abused young boys. His role in the greater scope of the scandal has come under scrutiny as well, specifically for approving a $3 million grant for the Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity which he used as an avenue to meet his victims.

The news comes one day after Philadelphia Inquirer reported that there was a strong disagreement between Pennsylvania lawmakers and the NCAA over how Penn State’s $60 million fine, which was part of NCAA President Mark Emmert’s sanctions, should be spent.

“If you spend all of that money in Pennsylvania, it will have a much stronger impact,” said State Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre) “Spread it out nationally, and you’re spreading resources so thin that you’re watering down what impact you can have.”

Last week, Corman announced plans to introduce a bill that would require the NCAA to spend all of the endowment money within Pennsylvania’s borders and threatened to sue to bar the association from doling out money until the state legislature has a chance to consider his proposal.

Judging by SI’s report, the NCAA apparently didn’t get around to it. The NCAA established a “task force” last September to determine where the money — Penn State already wrote a $12 million check as part of its five-year schedule for the fine — should be sent.

“The NCAA has determined that at least one-quarter of the annual disbursements from the endowment will be reserved for Pennsylvania organizations,” said a Penn State release. “However, recognizing that child sexual abuse is a national issue, the NCAA has determined that grants from the endowment will be available in other states as well. Penn State appreciates the commitments of the task force on this important endeavor that will help countless victims of child sexual abuse.”

SI’s report also states it’s “unclear if the suit will seek to overturn or reduce the NCAA’s historic penalties against Penn State.” What power the commonwealth would have to assert itself over the NCAA is foggy since the specifics of the reported lawsuit aren’t known.

The NCAA’s dilemma from the moment the Sandusky scandal broke in November, 2011, was how it could get involved, if it could at all. The Association has no authority over state or federal investigations and the alleged cover-up of Sandusky’s pedophilia by top PSU admins blurred the line in the eyes of many between a crime of the law and a crime of athletic interest. Shortly after the Sandusky story broke, Penn State hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to lead an investigation into the university’s response to the multiple allegations against Sandusky.

It was that report, released in July of last year, which the NCAA used to grant unprecedented power to Emmert to punish PSU with penalties that included the aforementioned fine, loss of scholarship and a multi-year bowl ban. The NCAA has stated multiple times that those sanctions are not subject to appeal.

However, the NCAA can still be sued for its methods, which have come under fire for bypassing normal investigative protocol  How the commonwealth plans to pursue a suit remains to be seen.

Charges against ex-Orange DB Howard upgraded in Syracuse stabbing incident

SYRACUSE, NY - SEPTEMBER 26:  Syracuse Orange takes the field amidst a cloud of pyrotechnic smoke before the game against the LSU Tigers on September 26, 2015 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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Former Syracuse defensive back Nasean Howard was arraigned last month on two counts of assault in the second degree after allegedly stabbing two of his former teammates.

On Thursday, Howard’s charges were upgraded to first degree assault, in addition to the second degree charges and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The first-degree charge states Howard intended to cause “serious physical injury” — a safe bet considering he allegedly came at the two men with a knife — and carries a sentence stretching up to 25 years.

The 20-year-old Howard is accused of attacking Chauncey Scissum and Corey Winfield unprovoked during an on-campus birthday party for an unnamed Syracuse student. Scissum was stabbed in the jaw and, unable to protect himself due to a recent surgery, was protected by Winfield, who took stabbings in the arms, chest and ribs on Scissum’s behalf.

Defense attorney Irene Aurora Flores stated “there’s a lot more to the story” but declined further comment, according to the Associated Press.

Howard remains free on bail.

Pitt RB Chris James completes transfer to Wisconsin

SYRACUSE, NY - OCTOBER 24:  Chris James #5 of the Pittsburgh Panthers carries the ball during the first half against the Syracuse Orange on October 24, 2015 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  Pittsburgh defeats Syracuse 23-20.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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Hailing out of Chicago, Chris James hoped to sign with Wisconsin after leaving Notre Dame College Prep but wound up heading east to play for head coach Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and running backs coach John Settle at Pittsburgh.

All three of whom are now at Wisconsin.

So, naturally, James is now set to join them. The rising junior has planned to transfer to Wisconsin for months, and on Thursday received confirmation he’d been admitted to the Big Ten school.

“Coach Settle sent me a text, saying ‘welcome to the Badger family,’” James told Badger Nation. “I am really excited. It’s definitely been a long journey.”

James said, naturally, that his childhood love for the Badgers combined with his former coaches now employed in Madison drew him to Wisconsin. The presence of Ron DayneMontee BallMelvin Gordon and a handful of other 1,000-yard backs couldn’t have hurt, either.

“It was funny because everybody who I knew was wearing red now,” James said. “It was kind of weird but I’m glad I got to chance to go back up there. Things really haven’t changed that much. Stepping into Camp Randall, I got chills, man. As crazy as it feels, it felt like home.”

James rushed 87 times for 437 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman in 2014, and accumulated 56 carries for 253 yards last season.

Two of Wisconsin’s top three running backs will be seniors this fall, so James figures to be a regular in the Badgers’ running back rotation when his eligibility resumes in 2017.

Coastal Carolina struggling to acquire funding for stadium improvements

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 23:  Alex Ross #4 of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers drops back to pass during their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Coastal Carolina joins the Sun Belt’s football roster in 2017 (every other sport makes the jump this fall), and the Chanticleers would like to make some upgrades to 12-year old Brooks Stadium in advance of their move to college football’s top division.

Only, the school can’t receive approval to acquire the funding necessary to do so.

On Thursday, South Carolina’s Commission on Higher Education rejected by a 9-4 vote the Coastal’s request for $29.9 million to upgrade the stadium. This week’s rejection marked the fourth in three months, as the school has been unable to assuage the CHE’s concerns over how accurately Coastal’s projections forecast the true cost of the project.

The university has dropped its initial request by 21 percent, down from an original $38 million ask.

“We take the responsibility very seriously. This is not an easy decision. We champion everything that you’re about as an institution,” CHE chairman Tim Hofferth said prior to the vote, via Myrtle Beach Online. “ … At the end of the day, I’ve talked to a lot of athletic directors, a lot of presidents throughout the country, to bring it without significant private funding in today’s environment [is risky]. The question is what’s significant? I don’t know. There’s 13 [different] significant answers here. The fact of the matter is it’s very relevant and the thing that I’m afraid of, the costs on the operating side are nowhere near what you anticipate them to be. …

“That’s my greatest concern in this environment. I want to get there. I’m just not there yet.”

The CHE also said it would like to see Coastal raise more private money to fund the project.

“I would ask if it’s within a point of order, can we get some very specific direction as to what is going to be a comfort level for those that are on the commission?” Coastal president Dave DeCenzo said. “You probably can’t do it right now, but I respectfully request that something be given to us because I know there have been some comments at times of ‘Well, why is this new?’ We’ve been playing this ‘Guess what’s on our mind?’ as we get some feedback saying, ‘Well, you’re going to have to lower this, you’re going to have to do that.’ We need some very specific direction.

“Our definition of private money, if that’s unacceptable to you, if your definition of private money is this is a donor writing a check, is it 20 percent, is it 25 percent? Give us some guideline.”

Coastal has stripped down its original blueprint, down from a planned 22,000 capacity to 19,000, while abandoning plans to improve the stadium’s sound system and construct plazas and facades to make the structure more functional.

The NCAA requires FBS programs meet an average attendance of 15,000, which is not currently possible in the 9,214-seat Brooks Stadium.

Coastal Carolina has the opportunity to make a fifth proposal before the CHE next month.

Jay Paterno pens passionate Facebook post defending late father

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 26: Jay Paterno, son of Joe Paterno, pauses during his speech during a public memorial for former Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State, January 26, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno, who was 85, died due to complications from lung cancer on January 22, 2012. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It’s become crystal clear at this point there is nothing anyone can do, no arranging of words, no stacking of facts, witnesses and testimony, that can change the mind of Joe Paterno‘s supporters. Perhaps a video recording of Paterno admitting he knew of Jerry Sandusky‘s crimes and did nothing to stop them, but maybe not even then.

Leading that pack is the late coach’s family, and chief among them his son and former assistant coach Jay Paterno.

Following new allegations against Penn State uncovered in an insurance suite that came to light on Thursday, the younger Paterno issued a blistering defense of his father. (Hat tip to our own Kevin McGuire for capturing it.)

It’s unclear as of yet how the testimony will affect the insurance suit against Penn State, but one thing that is apparent is the arguing over Paterno’s involvement in the affair and the subsequent affect on his legacy will continue for years to come.