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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.

Northwestern remembers Randy Walker 10 years after his passing

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Ten years ago Wednesday, the college football world was rocked by the unexpected and sudden loss of Northwestern coach Randy Walker.

The athletics department produced a touching video tribute to the man who suffered a heart attack at the age of 52, seven years into his tenure in Evanston.

Walker’s death unexpectedly thrust a young former Wildcats linebacker named Pat Fitzgerald into the head coach’s chair.

“I would prefer to be toasting to his longevity right now,” Fitzgerald says in the video.

Walker posted a 37-45 mark at Northwestern, including a surprising 8-4 campaign in 2000.

That followed a successful nine-year run at Miami University, the southwest Ohio school where he was a player.

Report: Ole Miss violations laid out to NCAA by stepfather of Laremy Tunsil

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The Mississippi football program might not find out its NCAA fate very soon, but the rest of the world learned more specifics regarding the accusations the Rebels face Wednesday.

Sports Illustrated published the results of its investigation, including specific allegations levied by a man in the process of getting a divorce from the mother of star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil.

Lindsey Miller detailed several potentially serious violations involving Tunsil and his family, and SI was able to view some of the information he says he turned over to the NCAA during extensive interviews.

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations is consistent with Miller’s claims in numerous places, including 12 occasions of free lodging that totaled $2,253. Miller says he told the NCAA those nights were arranged by boosters he met through [Mississippi DL coach Chris] Kiffin, but the NCAA never found that link. Kiffin’s name appears 13 times in the Notice of Allegations, but none of those prove he set Miller up with boosters.

Tunsil was part of a surprisingly star-studded recruiting class in 2013, but head coach Hugh Freeze has consistently defended his program against accusations his recruiting success was thanks to illegal methods.

Freeze, who took over as coach in December 2011, may minimize the NCAA’s case, but nine of the 13 football allegations relate to his tenure there. (Four allegations, including fraudulent ACT scores, occurred under former coach Houston Nutt.) There are four Level I violations under Freeze and a significant Level II failure to monitor charge in which the NCAA says the athletic department and football program failed to monitor Tunsil driving three different loaner cars between August 2014 and June 2015. (That latter allegation is the one Ole Miss is disputing.)

Perhaps complicating matters is the fact Miller went to the NCAA only after having a fallout with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, during the summer of 2015.

Polingo denied Miller’s accusations via a statement to SI, and in another statement a lawyer for Tunsil told SI, “You have to consider the source.”

Mississippi has already admitted to 12 of the 13 allegations and self-imposed penalties, but it remains to be seen if the NCAA Committee on Infractions will find the punishment sufficient or more is added.

The full SI story goes into deeper detail about the situations facing not only Ole Miss athletics but also the NCAA enforcement model itself.

NCAA announces common-sense change to bowl selection process

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Andy Janovich #35 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers jumps over Jayon Brown #12 of the UCLA Bruins during the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The NCAA Division I council announced 5-7 teams will still have a chance to make a bowl this fall.

They will have to wait until all of the 6-6 teams have been picked, though.

The common sense rule tweak was announced Wednesday.

Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State all made bowls last season despite finishing the regular season 5-7, and coincidentally they all won.

In a statement, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who serves as chair of the football oversight committee, said the postseason selection process “makes sense and is fair to the schools and the bowls.”

APR scores will continue to be used to designate which 5-7 teams are eligible to take up the bowl slots left available after all of the 6-6 teams have been selected.

After swelling to 41 games last season, the postseason is not set to expand again until at least the 2020 season as a result of a moratorium on the certification of new bowls was established by the council in April.

NCAA inquires about additional Sandusky victims from Penn State lawsuit

BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Penn State and Joe Paterno‘s family have already done their part to return the tragic Jerry Sandusky saga to the news this year.

Now the NCAA apparently wants to join in.

The Centre Daily Times reports the college sports governing body has requested information regarding two men allegedly victimized by Sandusky, a long-time Penn State assistant coach, in the 1970s.

Their stories came to light in a court filing from a lawsuit involving Penn State and an insurer. The school tried to collect on a policy to help pay settlements it reached with more than 30 individuals who accused Sandusky of sexually abusing them.

The university tried to recoup money for those settlements from liability insurer Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, but PMA challenged that in court. The two men’s cases were revealed in an order by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer that referenced their cases, years earlier than the 10 Sandusky was convicted of in 2012. One said he told Paterno.

The CDT story does not give any indication the NCAA might want to revisit the sanctions that were handed down in 2012.

Rather, it is looking for defense fodder in a defamation lawsuit filed by the family of Paterno, the legendary Nittany Lions head coach

The estate claims the college sports oversight group defamed the man who helmed the program from 1966 until his firing in 2011 after the Sandusky story broke.

A key point is the NCAA’s acceptance of the findings of the Freeh report, the university-commissioned investigation of the Sandusky scandal, which placed blame on four Penn State leaders, including Paterno, who died six months before it was released. The NCAA then levied historic sanctions on the university, including stripping 110 wins from the Nittany Lions, dropping Paterno from first place in the leaderboard for most wins by a Division 1 coach.

But in new documents, the NCAA says it needs the information about the two claimants to refute the estate’s defamation claims.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012, and some of the sanctions Penn State agreed to accept from the NCAA were gradually lifted in the following years.

While Sandusky reportedly continues to work on getting his convictions overturned, it’s not hard to imagine Sandusky’s victims and plenty of members of the Penn State community would prefer to move on from the tragedy — allowing both time to heal in whatever way is possible.

The same can most likely be said of current coach James Franklin, who took the job two-plus years ago after coach Bill O’Brien endured the brunt of the storm and maintained solid recruiting despite the sanctions.

During the spring, Franklin told CBSSports.com, “This is really year one for us in a lot of ways,” citing a return to having close to a full allotment of scholarships.