NCAA sues Gov. Tom Corbett after he signs bill to keep Penn State fine in Pennsylvania

mmorgan@centredaily.comFebruary 21, 2013 

State Sen. Jake Corman’s bill to keep the $60 million Penn State fine in the commonwealth was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday, and the NCAA subsequently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the state’s challenging of the penalty.

The new law violates the Constitution by attempting to disrupt interstate commerce and confiscate funds intended for child sex abuse victims nationwide “to be used solely for the benefit of Pennsylvania residents,” according to the lawsuit.

The NCAA said the law violates Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution which says, “No State shall … make any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts,” the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which reads that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation and Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which says Congress has the power to regulate trades between states.

Corbett, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chairman Marc Zimmer and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale were named as defendants in the suit.

In a statement released by the NCAA, chief legal officer Donald Remy said the Pennsylvania government is doing “whatever it wants to whomever it wants.”

“State governments can’t simply pass laws to rewrite private agreements and divert private money to their own coffers,” Remy said, describing the law as a “legislative overreach.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert was also quoted in the statement saying that all of its members must abide by any penalties that were agreed upon.

“If individual members or state lawmakers take it upon themselves to decide what sanctions are appropriate, simply to protect their home team, then collegiate sports would be dramatically altered,” he said.

Corbett continues to support the new law and believes it is important to keep the fine money in Pennsylvania, his deputy director of communications, Janet Kelley, said. The governor is also reviewing the NCAA’s lawsuit and will “respond appropriately,” she said.

Corman, R-Benner Township, praised his colleagues in the General Assembly on Wednesday for moving the bill along so quickly and showing the high level of bipartisan support.

“Obviously, the governor spoke out in support of this bill from the beginning,” Corman said. “I was not worried that he wasn’t going to sign it.”

The level of support for the bill, Corman said, shows that the legislature understands how important it is for the money that was generated in Pennsylvania to stay in the commonwealth.

Under the new law, Penn State would be required to pay the fine money into an endowment managed by the state treasurer and that the money be used in child sex abuse prevention programs as outlined by the consent decree.

The law may also provide Corman with additional firepower for his lawsuit against the NCAA, which also attempts to keep the fine money in the state. Corman said he and his legal team will discuss adding an amendment to the complaint citing the new state law.

U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, and Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, also criticized the NCAA on Wednesday for “stonewalling” their attempts to eliminate the scholarship reductions as part of the sanctions against the Penn State football team. They said those reductions simply hurt the chances for young people to get a college education.

“The NCAA has failed to adequately justify this decision, which is inexcusable and unfortunate,” Thompson said in a news release.

Penn State spokesman Dave La Torre said the university has no comment on the bill.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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