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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.

Fourth Georgia Tech player to transfer since end of season

DUBLIN, IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 03: Christian Philpott of Georgia Tech celebrates victory over Boston College in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Ireland 2016 at Aviva Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images)
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Late last month, leading rusher Marcus Marshall become one of a trio of Georgia Tech football players who have announced their decisions to transfer since the end of the regular season.  Thursday, that trio became a quartet.

On his personal Twitter account last night, Christian Philpott (pictured, No. 82) announced that he will be transferring from the Yellow Jackets in January.  The wide receiver said he came to the decision after talks with family and friends, although he didn’t detail precisely why he was leaving the football program.

If Philpott decides another FBS program will be his next collegiate stop, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws. Beginning in 2018, he’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

A three-star 2015 signee, Philpott took a redshirt as a true freshman because of an injury. This season, Philpott caught one pass for nine yards in three games this season.

UNC’s Nazair Jones leaving Tar Heels early for NFL

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 14:  Nazair Jones #90 and Dominquie Green #26 of the North Carolina Tar Heels tackle Mark Walton #1 of the Miami Hurricanes during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Another day, another college player giving up the college football life for a professional payday.

North Carolina announced Friday that Nazair Jones has elected to forego his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.  The defensive tackle will play in UNC’s Sun Bowl matchup with Stanford Dec. 30 before shifting his focus to preparing for the draft.

“I’m so thankful for this amazing university,” statement from Jones began. “The University of North Carolina has changed me so much since the first day I stepped on campus. Throughout my career, I have been with a family of brothers and found people that have become my closest friends. I want to thank our amazing coaching staff, support staff and an incredible fan base. I know Tar Heel nation will always have my back!”

“It’s been a pleasure coaching Naz throughout his career at UNC and watching him grow as a person both on and off the field,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “He has overcome great physical adversity and improved tremendously since he came into the program in 2013. This season he was the leader of our defensive line and someone everyone on the team respected. I believe he has a bright future in professional football if he continues to work hard and focus on being the best he can be.”

Jones has started 21 of the 34 games in which he’s played.  The past two seasons, he was named third-team All-ACC.

Urban Meyer could lose two OSU assistants to FBS head-coaching jobs

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Thanks to a flurry of activity the past couple of days, there are just five head coach openings at the FBS level remaining.  Depending on how things play out the next 24-48 hours, it may be a couple of Ohio State assistants who fill two of those openings.

The speculation with the most traction appears to involve Luke Fickell, with the OSU co-defensive coordinator reportedly the frontrunner for the Cincinnati job.  According to one report, negotiations between Fickell and UC officials is currently underway; another says there have been talks but no negotiations.

The only certainty in this situation, it seems, is that an announcement on a new Bearcats coach won’t come today.  It could, though, come this weekend.

Losing Fickell could actually cost Urban Meyer two assistants at once to an in-state school as, the speculation goes, cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs would potentially follow the coach to UC as defensive coordinator.

In addition to those two assistants, Buckeyes’ co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner is in play for the head-coaching vacancy at Western Kentucky.

In addition to UC and WKU, the remaining FBS openings include Florida Atlantic, Temple South Florida. Charlie Strong is the overwhelming favorite for the USF job and an announcement of his hiring could come as early as today.

Matt Rhule adds Texas high school coach association president to Baylor football staff

Baylor University's new football coach Matt Rhule speaks during a public event at the Ferrell Center, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Waco, Texas. Rhule replaces Jim Grobe, who led the Bears to a 6-6 record as interim coach this season after Art Briles was fired May 26. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
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This is about as smart a move as Matt Rhule can make.

Baylor’s hiring of Rhule was widely hailed as a masterstroke by the scandal-plagued football program; Wednesday, the coach showed the class he will be bringing to Waco.  The biggest negative to the hire?  Rhule has absolutely no ties to the state of Texas as either a coach or a player.

Friday, Rhule began the process of rectifying the deficit in that area by hiring San Antonio Reagan head football coach David Wetzel to be a part of his BU football staff, the Dallas Morning News confirmed.  Wetzel, who played his college football for the Bears, has been a head coach in the state for two decades, and is currently the president of the Texas High School Coaches Association.

Wetzel has been in the San Antonio area for a dozen years.  Prior to that, he was in the Killeen area of Texas.

The News writes that “Wetzel is not expected to be an assistant coach but will serve in another capacity, such as player development.” While he may have been the first, Wetzel certainly won’t be the last Rhule hire with extensive ties to the state.