Tom Corbett

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.

Former Pennsylvania governor says Joe Paterno ‘probably’ should have been suspended, not fired

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After spearheading the investigation into Penn State University during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett seemed to soften his stance on former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Corbett admitted Paterno “probably” should not have been fired and should have had an opportunity to finish out the 2011 season.

“They probably shouldn’t have fired him. They probably should have suspended him,” Corbett told the Inquirer. “He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline.”

Paterno was fired with four games remaining in is last season at the helm of the Nittany Lions. The octogenarian died two months after a short battle with cancer.

The university has been working damage control ever since. The first step in the right direction to reclaim Paterno’s legacy came Sept. 11 when a judge ruled in favor of the Paterno family in a lawsuit against the NCAA.

More questions were raised Wednesday about how the NCAA handled the initial sanctions placed on Penn State. A series of emails were uncovered that questioned the NCAA’s legal ability to even place sanctions on the program. Due to the embarrassment the school suffered, it decided to accept the sanctions anyhow.

Corbett’s comments come just two days after this was revealed. Penn State supporters made sure to jump on the opportunity presented the former governor and his new stance.

“Revelations like this would have been meaningful three years ago, before the patently false narrative about Joe Paterno was cemented in minds across America,” said Maribeth Roman Schmidt, a member of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. “We hope Tom Corbett will continue to share his regrets in an effort to restore the fine reputations of both Joe Paterno and Penn State University.”

NCAA removes Pa. governor from lawsuit over PSU fine

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The NCAA continues to move forward with a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the distribution of fine money to be paid by Penn State. In doing so, the NCAA has removed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale from the lawsuit.

According to an Associated Press report, the NCAA believes Corbett and DePasquale are no longer significant in the lawsuit. This is different from a previous report in September that suggested the NCAA was willing to comply with the Pennsylvania state law. The NCAA, Corbett and DePasquale reportedly came to an agreement allowing the two defendants to be dropped from the lawsuit. Corbett is in the midst of a campaign to keep his seat as governor, and polls show he is trailing by a wide margin.

The lawsuit filed by the NCAA challenges a Pennsylvania law that requires fine money to be paid by Penn State be kept within the borders of Pennsylvania. The NCAA believes that money should be spread beyond Pennsylvania to raise child abuse awareness.

The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million as part of the sanction terms dropped on the university in the summer of 2012. Although the NCAA has since scaled back segments of the sanction terms (postseason ban lifted and recruiting restrictions eliminated), the remainder of the $60 million fine is still required to be paid. To date, Penn State has paid two installments toward the total sum of the fine. Penn State was given five years to pay off the fine and has paid two $12 million installments.

Settlement in the works for NCAA and Pennsylvania

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It appears a settlement between the NCAA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could be on track for a settlement over a lawsuit focusing on the penalties assigned to Penn State following the findings uncovered in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Lawyers for the NCAA and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett have asked a judge for a month to work on the details for a potential settlement, according to The Patriot News and other media outlets.

Both sides filed a motion in Harrisburg federal court suggesting the time would allow for a “meaningful opportunity” to iron out the details of a potential settlement, thus avoid the need to go through any court drama. The NCAA filed a lawsuit against the state focusing on the distribution of fine money to be paid by Penn State. The state argues the $60 million fine money should remain instate, but the NCAA has stated the money should be distributed outside of state borders as well. Corbett signed off on a new law that would keep the money instate after the NCAA assigned the penalty. It is the NCAA’s belief that was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Penn State organized a schedule to pay off the $60 million fine over five years. To date, Penn State has paid $24 million in two installments.

At this point it appears a settlement would be very likely. Regardless of the outcome of this legal squabble, there is no visible effect on the football program. Penn State is still required to pay $60 million regardless of the settlement details. Penn State is not directly tied to the lawsuit.

Penn State is entering year three of its four-year penalty stage with the NCAA. Barring any further amendments to the sanction terms (the NCAA has already turned back some scholarships), Penn State will be ineligible for postseason play in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

No political incentives discovered in Pennsylvania AG report on Sandusky scandal

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Earlier today Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane released a 167-page report on how the Jerry Sandusky scandal was handled by state officials. Not much new information was learned about the scandal that was not already known, and the report failed to prove what Kane was believed to be seeking. Former state attorney general, Tom Corbett (now the governor of Pennsylvania) did not let any political incentives get in the way of conducting an investigation into Sandusky’s crimes, according to the report.

According to the report’s findings, the investigation was held up more by a failure to take the proper steps in the investigation that would have required more resources.  Corbett, serving on the board of trustees at Penn State, has come under criticism for the lack of action taken promptly on Sandusky when information was first reported about his activity, but there was no evidence revealed suggesting his role on the board with Penn State had anything to do with the response.

As far as the football program is concerned, former head coach Joe Paterno is used sparingly in the report. The report specifies most of the difficulties stemmed from Sandusky’s foundation, The Second Mile. The report did suggest Sandusky continued to prey on boys while the investigation was ongoing, which is disturbing.

As stated earlier, this report was always going to be more about the political impact of the investigation and response to Sandusky. Much of the damage as far as the football program itself is concerned appears to be behind Penn State. Penn State has not offered a comment on this latest report.

Sandusky is currently serving a sentence of 30-60 years for his crimes.