In response to Judge John Leete taking a red pen to the lawsuit of the Joe Paterno estate against the NCAA and Penn State, making changes about what parties could be included, the plaintiffs have submitted their second amended version of the complaint in Centre County Court.
The Paternos and others are suing the NCAA, charging that the governing body for intercollegiate athletics bypassed its own rules when it sanctioned the university in 2012 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Most of the changes are small. The names are tweaked, with Scott Paterno being dropped as a representative of the late former head coach’s family but the estate itself being named a plaintiff. Three members of the board of trustees of Penn State have been erased along with four faculty members and nine players.
Some other changes show up in a line-by-line comparison of the first amended version and the second.
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There is more of a focus on the NCAA’s rules and what the plaintiffs believe was not followed as the college sports oversight organization looked at the Sandusky scandal and levied its historic sanctions against the university.
The documents accuse the NCAA of more than the previous “rush to judgment,” but instead, a premeditated stance on Paterno’s program’s guilt. A Nov. 17, 2011, letter to then-university president Rodney Erickson from co-defendant and NCAA President Mark Emmert is included as an exhibit, specifically pointing to language questioning the head coach’s role.
The plaintiffs point out that at the time the letter was sent, Paterno, who died in January 2012, was still alive and “entitled to certain rights and protections provided under the NCAA’s rules.” Those, the plaintiffs claim, were not extended.
The document also suggests that the NCAA attempted to exert influence to shape the direction of the Freeh report, the Penn State-commissioned investigation, and that it used the “ungrounded threat” that if Penn State did not accept the consent decree agreeing to the sanctions, the football program would be dealt the death penalty.
In addition, the new filing updates the timeline of events in the case to include the September rollback of sanctions including the bowl ban that would allow the Nittany Lions the opportunity to return to postseason play in the 2014 season.
The suit accuses the NCAA and Penn State of breach of contract. The NCAA is accused of intentional interference with contractual relations, injurious falsehood/commercial disparagement, defamation and civil conspiracy.