Before July, 2012, there was essentially one looming question to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State: how could a serial pedophile be allowed to prey on his victims for years using the university’s athletic facilities without being stopped? That is what the Freeh Report, created by PSU, attempted to answer.
Then, on July 23, the NCAA, and specifically president Mark Emmert, added a new dimension to the Penn State story by introducing unprecedented steps to punish the football program swiftly and severely. Penn State was fined $60 million from the NCAA, subjected to a four-year bowl ban and stripped of dozens of scholarships over that same time period.
By doing so, Emmert and the Association warped a criminal case into a football one, and the focus of the Sandusky scandal has been wrongly shifted to whether or not 1) Penn State deserved the sanctions and 2) the NCAA stepped outside its jurisdiction. The NCAA’s involvement alone was met with mixed reviews; the decision to bypass the normal investigative script to come up with a consent decree was criticized more heavily.
If anybody’s visited CFT long enough, you know I’ve been one of those critics. The attention should have been, and should still be, on the victims, bringing those who could have done more and failed to do so to justice — Penn State president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley are currently awaiting a preliminary hearing next week on charges related to the Sandusky scandal; Sandusky has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison for his crimes — and making sweeping changes to ensure nothing like this ever happens at Penn State again.
The NCAA not only made the Sandusky case about itself, but bent the interpretation of its own rulebook rhetoric to the point of breaking in the process. So I have no problem with the NCAA being challenged for taking action in a case larger than what the organization was capable of handling.
But that task should not come from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
Never mind the obvious political grandstanding. That’s way too obvious to merit a response. What Corbett is doing is not only hypocritical, but laughable. Recall this quote from Corbett following the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State:
“The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university.
“Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”
Five months later, Corbett’s leading a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA and it stinks something fierce.
But the real problem is that Corbett is waist deep (or higher) in the muck of the Sandusky scandal. He’s been accused of dragging his feet in the Sandusky case while serving as Pennsylvania’s attorney general until 2011. It was also Corbett who approved a $3 million grant for the Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity. Sandusky used the charity for years to target his victims and Corbett’s tenure as AG suggests he was aware of some fishiness.
Then, there’s the lawsuit itself, which you can view HERE. If the complaint was filed with only the intent of keeping PSU’s $60 million fine with in-state organizations, then Corbett might have some footing. An attempt to toss the sanctions against Penn State because the NCAA violated antitrust laws could be much harder to prove and could take a long time to do so. The fact is that Penn State signed the consent decree last summer and could still agree to the sanctions moving forward. It should be noted again that Penn State is not involved in this lawsuit.
NCAA expert John Infante, whom we cite often when it comes to matters related to the NCAA, feels the suit will be resolved quickly.
I thought Corbett’s lawsuit was a heavy-handed negotiating tactic to keep fine in PA and even that seems optimistic now.
— John Infante (@John_Infante) January 2, 2013
Corbett may have a case against the NCAA, but all current signs point to the contrary. If anything, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. the NCAA may serve as a future example of how to deal with the NCAA at a university level if it ever decides to pursue sanctions in a similar fashion again.