Our View | Mediation right course for NCAA fines battle

June 19, 2013 

Mediation is the best option for the legal fight between two state officials and the NCAA over how Penn State’s $60 million fine will be spent.

State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state Treasurer Rob McCord have asked the Commonwealth Court to put their lawsuit into mediation in the hopes of settling the dispute quickly.

Corman and McCord acted in response to a request from Penn State to move the lawsuit along.

Attorneys for the university said in a letter that they feared that a lingering lawsuit would push them into violation of the mandate to deliver the first installment of the fine that was among the sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Addressing the NCAA and the state leaders, Penn State outside lawyer Frank Guadagnino wrote: “Your dispute over the use of the proceeds of the fine puts the (u)niversity between the proverbial rock and a hard place.”

Penn State’s first installment of $12 million was placed in a separate account while the university awaits word on whether the money will stay in Pennsylvania.

“We note that a settlement of the dispute would permit the funds to be used for their intended purpose in an expeditious manner,” Guadagnino wrote.

Corman sued the NCAA to keep the money here, and the General Assembly adopted legislation — Act 1 of 2013 — that would require that the fine be spent on child abuse care and prevention programs in Pennsylvania.

That prompted a legal challenge from the NCAA.

“As I have stated from the beginning, I believe fine money, which is coming from Pennsylvania residents, should stay in our state and benefit our organizations and our children,” Corman said in a news release. “Any effort to resolve this issue quickly will benefit everyone.”

Likewise, we have said the money should stay in Pennsylvania, where it would meet the NCAA’s objective of providing needed programs where Sandusky’s crimes occurred.

And we understand the uncomfortable position in which Penn State finds itself, looking to meet the demands of the sanctions and meeting the requirements of state law.

Although Corman and McCord expressed a willingness to have the matter settled, the NCAA has not taken the same approach. That is unfortunate, as a lengthy legal process would delay the impact of the fines and could bring an additional cost for taxpayers.

Attorneys for both sides are expected to be in court Wednesday to begin oral arguments about the Corman-McCord lawsuit.

Regardless of the outcome of the litigation, Penn State should not be penalized for merely attempting to meet its divergent obligations to the state and the NCAA.

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