Paterno family lawyers this week evoked strong words the state Superior Court had for the NCAA and the sanctions it levied against Penn State in the family’s own legal battle to have the punishment overturned.
Attorneys for the family, in the latest legal memo filed in their own ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA, started with a quote from Judge Anne Covey, who last week authored a majority opinion in a separate suit that appeared to call the sanctions into question.
“The children harmed by (Jerry) Sandusky, the children’s family members, the community, PSU and the (c)ommonwealth were all seeking to uncover the truth behind these hideous crimes when although ‘ordinarily ... not ... actionable by the NCAA,’ the NCAA involved itself in one of the most disastrous events in .. the history of the community, PSU and the (c)ommonwealth...,” Covey wrote in a decision issued in lawsuit filed by state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state Treasurer Rob McCord.
“Student-athletes, trainers, coaches, administrators and support personnel who had excelled in their jobs through hard work, practice, commitment, team work, sportsmanship, excellence and perseverance were told none of that matters,” Covey wrote.
Corman’s suit seeks to enforce a state law that would keep money collected from the sanctions in Pennsylvania, but the most recent court ruling in the case could open a door to a review of the sanctions.
Paterno family attorneys have included Penn State as a nominal defendant in the suit, but said in the filing Wednesday that the NCAA has the university “under its thumb,” and is pressuring the university to oppose the family’s suit.
The door could still be open, however, for the Paterno family to amend their suit and seek relief from the university, according to a footnote in the filing.
In the footnote, attorneys said the plaintiffs “continue to believe that Penn State is a victim” of the NCAA and that the university’s objections to the lawsuit “reflect the continued pressure by NCAA officials.”
“We named Penn State as a nominal defendant only based on belief that the consent decree was imposed by NCAA, through threats and coercion,” Paterno family attorney Wick Sollars said in a statement. “If the light of discovery causes that view to change, we have not foreclosed any options in the litigation.”
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.