Judge denies Sen. Corman’s request to intervene in NCAA suit

mdawson@centredaily.comOctober 16, 2013 

State Sen. Jake Corman talks with reporters after a news conference in January to announce a lawsuit against the NCAA.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — CDT file photo Buy Photo

State Sen. Jake Corman cannot help defend against the NCAA’s bid to strike down a law he ushered through the legislature after Penn State agreed to pay the organization a $60 million fine for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane on Tuesday denied Corman’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit, which has the NCAA challenging Pennsylvania’s Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Constitution. Corman proposed the bill and Gov. Tom Corbett signed it, but the NCAA sued the governor, the state treasurer, the state auditor, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Corman sought legal standing so he could ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The state officials have moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and Corman’s lawyer, Matthew Haverstick, said the senator will wait to see how the court rules on that motion before considering the next move in trying to gain standing.

Corman, a Benner Township Republican, is suing the NCAA in a separate lawsuit in front of a completely different court. That suit, before the Commonwealth Court, aims to prevent fine money from being used outside the state.

Corman said in court papers that his lawsuit against the NCAA gave him an interest in the outcome of the NCAA’s lawsuit against the state. He said he wanted to avoid “inconsistent rulings” between the Commonwealth Court and Kane, as well as the litigation of similar lawsuits.

Corman said the constitutionality of the law could be litigated in front of the Commonwealth Court judges, and that the constitutionality issue did not belong before a federal judge.

Under the Corman law, if universities and colleges in Pennsylvania are fined more than $10 million, the money would be paid into the state treasury. As soon as the governor signed the law, the NCAA sued, saying it violates the Constitution by allowing private property to be taken without just compensation.

The $60 million fine that is the basis for these lawsuits was authorized when Penn State signed a consent decree with the NCAA. The money is supposed to go toward creating an endowment to fund child sex abuse prevention and awareness programs, and an NCAA task force will determine how the money is spent, according to the consent decree.

So far, Penn State has put the first $12 million payment aside, and another $12 million is due by the end of this year.

However, the litigation of the lawsuits has put the endowment’s creation on hold.

Corman’s lawsuit in Commonwealth Court already has survived a motion to dismiss from the NCAA, which has been entangled in a legal war with the state and local groups.

The NCAA won a battle against Corbett, who sued to overturn all the sanctions against Penn State. But Kane called the governor’s lawsuit a “Hail Mary pass” and tossed it out.

The family of late Penn State coach Joe Paterno has sued the NCAA in Centre County Court, and the sides’ lawyers will make oral arguments Oct. 29 over whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.

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