Buried in Governor Tom Corbett’s 43-page lawsuit against the NCAA is the legal gem that explains the case.
On page 23 of the antitrust lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Corbett argues that the sanction upon Penn State was “imposed by the NCAA as opposed to accepted by Penn State.”
According to attorney J. Abom of Abom & Kutulakis, Corbett is alleging the NCAA and president Mark Emmert gave the university an ultimatum: either accept the imposed sanctions or face the “death penalty” that would have eliminated the football team from all competition for one or more years.
Given the later option being more devastating, Corbett alleges Penn State president Rodney Erickson was forced beyond control.
“What I think the governor is saying is A, Penn State had no choice, and B, there’s no authority for [the NCAA] to impose the death penalty for his type of violation anyway,” Abom explained.
Abom further explained that Corbett accuses the NCAA of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The federal law prohibits the weakening of competition within a given market; in this case NCAA football.
Abom believes the governor felt the NCAA weakened the competition of play by not allowing Penn State to play in bowl appearances, having a reduction of scholarships, and the payment of $60 million in fines.
Corbett also believes the loss of revenues typically generated by the Penn State football program is also grounds that violate antitrust laws.
The most important argument Corbett makes is that the NCAA and Emmert have no jurisdiction in such case and that the NCAA violated its own rules of procedure when handling sanctions.
Another argument made in the lawsuit, according to Abom, is that the governor believes the NCAA deals with amateur athletics and the Sandusky case and alleged cover-up is of criminal nature.
Abom further surmised that Corbett alleges Emmert not only overstepped his boundaries, but also did so at the expense of Penn State University for political or monetary gain.
In the suit, Attorney General Linda Kelly is said to have delegated power to Corbett to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Commonwealth without the involvement of her office. Corbett also left out Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, as he mentioned during the press conference on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported Kathleen Kane reserved comment until a later date. Kane, who will be sworn in January 15, promised during her campaign to investigate Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky investigation.
The lawsuit asks the court to throw out the sanctions as well as potential damages. Besides Corbett’s general counsel, Esquire Ronald Wick from Cozen O’Connor, an international law firm in Washington D.C., was named as counsel for the governor.
It is unclear how much the lawsuit will cost the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
By Dave Marcheskie- ABC27