NCAA wants Pa. gov's Penn State lawsuit dismissed

NCAA wants Pa. gov's Penn State lawsuit dismissed
February 7, 2013, 8:00 pm
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The NCAA said Thursday a judge should throw out the federal antitrust lawsuit the governor filed against it over Penn State's $60 million fine and other penalties resulting from the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

College sports' governing body said in a filing that it disagrees with just about every allegation in the complaint against it initiated by Gov. Tom Corbett last month.

The NCAA said the penalties imposed under a July consent decree with the university are unrelated to regulation of economic activity, so antitrust law does not apply. It also argued Corbett lacks standing to sue and called his lawsuit "an inappropriate attempt to drag the federal courts into an intra-state political dispute."

"The remedial measures that Penn State agreed to were controversial, and have elicited strong feelings on all sides," the NCAA's lawyers wrote. "Some think they are too harsh, and some think they are too lenient. But none of those feelings have anything to do with the antitrust laws."

Corbett, a Republican, has said the NCAA overstepped its authority in punishing Penn State. His spokesman Nils Frederiksen said Thursday his lawyers will review the NCAA's filing "and respond as appropriate."

Corbett claimed in his lawsuit the NCAA "piled on" when it penalized Penn State over the Sandusky scandal. He asked that a federal judge throw out the sanctions, which include a four-year ban on bowl games, arguing that the measures have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky's crimes.

The NCAA, in its federal court filing, disagreed.

"It is exceptionally unlikely that sanctions temporarily impairing one school's prowess on the football field would render any of these robust nationwide economic markets less competitive, such that Stanford suddenly could raise tuition, Michigan could offer fewer or less valuable football scholarships, or Notre Dame could charge more for branded football jerseys," the NCAA said in the new filing.

The case could define just how far the NCAA's authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed the organization broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics (see full story).

Trustee who fired Paterno to leave Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Penn State trustee who fired football coach Joe Paterno over the phone will leave the board when his term ends in June, the university announced Thursday.

John Surma was vice chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees when he told Paterno that he was being ousted after 46 seasons as Penn State's head coach on Nov. 9, 2011.

Surma delivered the news shortly after the board voted unanimously to fire the Hall of Fame coach in the wake of the child sex-abuse charges against former Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky. He then announced Paterno's firing at a late-night news conference, sparking angry demonstrations around Penn State.

Paterno died two months later at age 85.

The university said in a release that Surma had advised board leadership informally in December that he was planning to leave because of "several new and continuing business commitments."

Surma is chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel. He joined the Penn State board in 2007 and was re-elected in 2010.

Alumni groups had harshly criticized the board's treatment of Paterno, contending he was fired without due process and before all the facts were in, and that he had been made into a scapegoat. The board has said Paterno was fired in part because the coach didn't meet a moral obligation to do more to alert authorities about a 2002 abuse allegation against Sandusky that was passed on to him by a graduate assistant.

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a watchdog group that had called for the resignation of the entire board, welcomed Surma's impending departure.

"We only wish he would have resigned sooner," the group said in a statement.

But new board Chairman Keith Masser said Surma and his family are owed "a significant debt of gratitude. ... His years of service to this university and our students is a source of inspiration and pride."

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence after being convicted last year of sexually abusing 10 boys.

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