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.

UNLV ‘very excited’ to share Las Vegas stadium with Raiders

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The biggest news of the day in the NFL has a decidedly college football connection.

By a 31-1 vote, NFL owners approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas later this decade.  The new stadium that will eventually serve as the home for the NFL club is expected to be ready for play for the 2020 season.

As expected, it will also serve as the new home for Sin City’s FBS team, a fact that UNLV’s hierarchy was quick to point out and highlight in the hours after the vote was officially confirmed.  Below are the statements from the three main characters involved with the football program.

Len Jessup, UNLV President
UNLV and the entire Rebel family welcome the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Raiders and the Stadium Authority Board to give UNLV football access to a world-class stadium and accompanying game day experience that will rival the best in college football. We also recognize and thank the numerous stakeholders – including the Adelson family – who invested their time and energy toward this vision. This is an historic day for Nevada and another example of how Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletics Director
We are very excited to welcome the Raiders to our great city of Las Vegas. Our community is on the rise and that has clearly been recognized by the NFL owners with today’s vote. We can’t wait for the day our UNLV football program has a new home, sharing the new world-class stadium with the Las Vegas Raiders. What a great day for the NFL, our city and our university.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV Football Head Coach
Today is a huge development for UNLV Football and the city of Las Vegas. Sharing a state-of-the-art stadium with the Raiders is another thing that will allow us to recruit at a high level. The combination of an NFL stadium and our upcoming Fertitta Football Complex brings so much energy to this program and campus. As someone who has lived here for eight years, I’m also excited for this community. This is a great place to live and the pride of being an NFL city will make it an even better place.

In addition to being tenants in a new state-of-the-art stadium, the university will soon begin construction on an on-campus football practice facility.

There are five FBS teams that will share stadiums with NFL teams on at least a part-time basis in 2017 — UMass (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium), Miami (Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium), Temple (Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field), Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field) and USF (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium).  Georgia State had shared the Georgia Dome with the Atlanta Falcons but are moving to the new Turner Field this season, while San Diego State will still call Qualcomm Stadium home even as the Chargers have bolted the facility for Los Angeles.

There has been chatter that both Temple (HERE) and USF (HERE) could find themselves in a position to build an on-campus stadium at some point down the road — although the latter could extend its agreement with its current home as it continues to evaluate its long-term plans.

The Los Angles Rams are also temporarily crashing at the home of the USC Trojans, Memorial Coliseum, until their new stadium is completed.

Kaylee Hartung leaves ESPN sidelines for CNN

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ESPN’s roster of college football talent has taken a bath lately. Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman broke up their critically acclaimed team for NFL work at different networks. Brad Nessler left for CBS. Brent Musuberger left for Vegas. Samantha Ponder has joined McDonough on the Worldwide Leader’s NFL team and, now, Kaylee Hartung is leaving the network as well.

Hartung confirmed her departure from ESPN on Monday. Though she did not name her next employer, it’s been an open secret within the industry for nearly a month Hartung will leave for CNN.

“Last night I worked my final event with ESPN,” Hartung announced on her Twitter page. “The decision to leave a job I love and take on a new challenge has been incredibly emotional but the overwhelming feeling I have today is gratitude. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had within the ESPN family for 5 years. I’m grateful for the people I’ve worked with who have supported me, made me a better reporter, made me a better person and became my friends. I’m grateful for the coaches, athletes, staffers, and university officials who’ve shared their stories with me and let me be a part of their magical moments. I’m grateful for the fans who have embraced me and shared their passion with me. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my life during this incredibly fun and exciting chapter. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter has in store… Now I get to be a fan of you all!”

Hartung started with Longhorn Network and since moved to SEC Network and the mothership. Her final event for the network was Sunday night’s Women’s Elite Eight match between Mississippi State and Baylor. Hartung worked in the political media prior to landing with the Longhorn Network as an associate producer for the CBS program Face the Nation.

Final Four forces South Carolina to postpone indoor facility groundbreaking

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File this one under the most first world of all problems: the South Carolina football program is having to adjust its plans because the Gamecocks’ basketball team has been more successful than anticipated.

With Frank Martin‘s hoops headed to Phoenix for this weekend’s Final Four and taking all the Palmetto State’s attention with them, Will Muschamp‘s football program has been forced to alter what had been a big day planned.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to break ground on their announced indoor practice facility; those plans have now been postponed.

With only six days between South Carolina’s clinching of a Final Four berth and the football team’s planned Garnet-White game, the spring game will have to remain slated for Saturday. But it has been bumped forward to a noon kickoff.

Muschamp did not make the trip to Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s Elite Eight win (Florida’s Jim McElwain was in attendance) and Saturday’s spring game will also preclude his attendance, meaning the head football coach must wait until a possible national championship berth to support the basketball team in person.

With Brandon Harris off the board, Texas reportedly looking at former ND QB Malik Zaire

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Texas pursued former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but Harris is no longer interested in being pursued.

After Harris’s commitment to North Carolina, Tom Herman has reportedly turned his interests to the next logical choice in the graduate transfer market — former Notre Dame signal caller Malik Zaire.

The news comes from Chip Brown of Horns Digest who, unfortunately hid the goods behind a pay wall.

The move would be an interesting one considering Zaire’s history with the Longhorns. Zaire played like a Heisman candidate in a 38-3 crunching of Texas on the opening night of the 2015 season, hitting 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we know, Zaire was lost for the year to a broken ankle one week later, but managed to win back the starting job in training camp before the ’16 season.

Zaire didn’t last long, though, hitting 2-of-5 passes for 23 yards while being credited for no gain on three rushes, giving way to DeShone Kizer in an eventual 50-47 double overtime loss to the Longhorns in Austin to open last season.

Zaire would toss only 18 more passes as a Fighting Irish quarterback.

If Zaire reciprocates Herman’s interest he would immediately join an open quarterback battle with incumbent Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger. At the time of his South Bend departure Zaire was reportedly considering Wisconsin, Baylor and recently off-the-market North Carolina.