Jake Corman

NCAA loses legal battle over Penn State’s $60 million fine

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The NCAA will not be able to force the $60 million fine money being paid by Penn State to be divided outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A federal judge ruled Tuesday against the NCAA‘s insistence the 2013 Endowment Act should be declared a violation of federal constitution.

U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane made the ruling basing her decision on the constitutionality of the law has already been upheld in a previous case between Pennsylvania state Treasurer Rob McCord and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman against the NCAA and Penn State .

“A judgment on the constitutional claims from this court, at this juncture, would unnecessarily interfere with state court proceedings and result in needless duplication,” the judge wrote in a statement.

Earlier this week it was reported state officials, Penn State and the NCAA were discussing the possibility of revising the terms of the sanctions levied against the university in the summer of 2012. Following the release of the Freeh Report — an independent investigation into the handling of the crimes Jerry Sandusky by Penn State officials paid for by the school and authored by former FBI director Louis Freeh — the NCAA slammed Penn State with four years of a postseason ban, the significant reduction of scholarships, the vacating of 112 wins (111 belonging to Joe Paterno) and a $60 million fine to be paid over five years aimed at helping to raise awareness of child and sexual abuse.

The NCAA has already restored Penn State’s scholarship total and lifted the final two season of the postseason ban, which allowed Penn State to participate in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2014.

Court orders NCAA to turn over 477 emails regarding Penn State

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If you thought the information the NCAA did share in emails regarding the Penn State sanctions was alarming, just wait. There could be more on the way.

Yesterday a Pennsylvania state court granted a request by State Senator Jake Corman to have the NCAA turn over additional emails the NCAA was attempting to withhold. The court’s decision was based on the initial emails entered as evidence for the legal battle between the NCAA and the state. The court decided a more thorough review of the emails was “necessary and appropriate,” as reported by Pen State student newspaper The Daily Collegian.

In all, the NCAA will have to turn over 477 additional emails for review by a judge. In addition, a list of every individual involved in any email exchanges will have to be included, which could open the door for potential witnesses. The documents will be sealed and may only be opened by the court.

The lawsuit is targeting the legality of the consent decree the NCAA had Penn State sign in the summer of 2012. The consent decree outlined the terms of sanctions levied against Penn State in 2012, including a four-year postseason ban, a significant reduction in scholarships, the vacating of 112 wins and a $60 million fine. The NCAA has since returned scholarships and lifted the final two years of the postseason ban. Earlier this week a court ordered the lawsuit to move forward. Emails released earlier this week suggested NCAA officials gambled with the sanction terms because Penn State would be so embarrassed by the situation linked to former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and his sick crimes of child abuse. The NCAA released a statement arguing the emails released show nothing more than communication regarding how to handle the situation, but Penn State officials say the information in the emails was disturbing.

On a somewhat related note, outgoing Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett said former head coach Joe Paterno probably should have been suspended, rather than fired. Corbett spoke a different tune initially, suggesting Paterno should be removed as head coach.

PA Supreme Court: NCAA must go to trial over PSU sanctions

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The NCAA will have to defend itself in the court of law over the legality of the sanctions levied on Penn State University in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. A Pennsylvania state Supreme Court rejected a request by the NCAA to prevent the trial from taking place.

A previous court decision shifted focus on the trial to the 2012 consent decree, which included a hefty $60 million fine. Justice Max Baer stated the judge making the previous decision was within its jurisdiction to make such a  ruling. The NCAA argued the judge improperly expanded the case regarding the $60 million fine and how it would be distributed.

Earlier today emails and documents tied to the case lead in part by Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman were shared with the public. The information has sparked some concern over how the NCAA handled Penn State, but the NCAA has stated the emails simply show a constant line of communication among NCAA officials to make the best decision possible. Penn State officials have responded with concern over the information revealed in the emails and documents.

Buckle up.

Penn State officials deeply disturbed by NCAA emails

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Penn State president Eric Barron says the information revealed in a series of emails from inside the NCAA regarding the sanctions levied against the university were “deeply disturbing.” The university is now weighing all options in response to the information unearthed as part of a court battle the NCAA is preparing for against Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman.

“We find it deeply disturbing that NCAA officials in leadership positions would consider bluffing one of their member institutions, Penn State, to accept sanctions outside of their normal investigative and enforcement process,” according to the statement by Barron and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Keith Masser. The statement released Tuesday evening was signed by both.

“We are considering our options,” the statement from Barron continues. “It is important to understand, however, that Penn State is in the midst of a number of legal and civil cases associated with these matters … Penn State’s commitment to the fight against child abuse and to the implementation of best practice governance, ethics and compliance programs and policies remains steadfast.”

As far as the NCAA’s sanctions are concerned, there is not much left that would be worth any fight by Penn State. The NCAA has already lifted the final two years of a postseason ban and restored the scholarship totals for the football program. Penn State is still paying off a $60 million fine to go toward child abuse awareness programs, which has spurned a separate legal battle for the NCAA regarding where the money may be distributed. The NCAA also vacated 112 wins from the record book for Penn State, 111 of which belonged to former head coach Joe Paterno. It is unclear what options would be available to Penn State, but fighting to drop the remainder of the fine payments would be a terrible public relations decision.

It may be more beneficial if Penn State would ask for more information from the NCAA in how the decisions were made, and perhaps ask for a review in order to assure no other NCAA institution is subject to such a process.

The NCAA has released its own statement to suggest the emails merely show the careful discussion in how to handle responding to Penn State following the release of the Freeh Report.

NCAA responds to “selectively released” emails regarding Penn State

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The NCAA says a handful of “selectively released emails” painted a poor picture of the NCAA’s handling of Penn State following the release of the Freeh Report in the summer of 2012. The NCAA says the emails and documents uncovered earlier today show the thoughtful and urgent care taken in discussing how the organization should best handle Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked State College. In light of the information revealed in the emails and documents that will be used in a court battle led by Pennsylvania state senator Jake Corman, the NCAA issued a formal response to address the details from its point of view.

“Debate and thorough consideration is central in any organization, and that clearly is reflected in the selectively released emails,” the statement from the NCAA reads. “The national office staff routinely provides information and counsel to the membership on tough issues.”

While not all of the documents were made available — some sections were redacted, as you would expect — the conversations and exchanges that were showed the NCAA was unsure how to handle Penn State, or even if it could justify doing so. Some emails suggested the NCAA would gamble by bluffing Penn State to accept the sanction terms in the now infamous consent decree signed by former university president Rodney Erickson.

“The NCAA carefully examined its authority and responsibility to act in response to the athletics department’s role detailed in the Freeh report,” the statement continues. “Ultimately, advised by all information gathered the Executive Committee determined to act and move forward with the Consent Decree.”

What happened at Penn State with Sandusky was without a doubt unprecedented, and the NCAA yielded to the independent review conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The investigation was paid for the Penn State in 2012. Upon completion of the report, the NCAA accepted the report word for word and acted on it without conducting its own investigation or review. The details of the Freeh Report have since been picked apart to various extents, and Freeh’s own reputation has since been dinged for other investigations as well. The NCAA has also rescinded certain terms of the sanctions since 2012. Penn State has had the final two years of a postseason ban lifted, which would allow the Nittany Lions to play in a postseason bowl game if they become eligible under NCAA rules (Penn State currently needs two more wins). The scholarship reductions have also been amended and lifted, allowing Penn State to return to a full scholarship limit well ahead of schedule as outlined by the original sanction terms.

If nothing else, the NCAA was making things up as they went along, although this is hardly news. NCAA President Mark Emmert has admitted that in the past couple of years when discussing Penn State. The NCAA felt it had to do something, anything, and it took a gamble. It seemed to work at the time, but hindsight may not be doing the NCAA any good on this particular case.

The true culprits of the whole mess in State College are either in jail, awaiting trial for their roles in all of this, or (depending on what side of this you fall one) are dead. The NCAA may have been wise to just let the judicial system handle this one.