The NCAA and Penn State lost a key battle in the ongoing question of the legality of the hotly contested consent decree that levied historic sanctions against the university after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
On Friday, Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey issued a ruling on the September motion from the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit brought by state Sen. Jake Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord.
That suit protested the consent decree and asked that the $60 million in fines the decree dictated stay in Pennsylvania, backed up by Corman’s Endowment Act legislation.
In filing the motion to dismiss, Penn State and the NCAA essentially asked to walk away, saying that because the university had agreed to pay the fine to the endowment and the NCAA agreed to accept that, the suit was moot.
Covey disagreed. In her ruling, she said the NCAA and Penn State were attempting “to usurp the court’s authority.”
“The consent decree’s validity is the very issue that the court concluded had far-reaching implications,” she said, declaring that those facts will be decided in a hearing.
No court date has been set to hear such arguments.
Corman and McCord had not contested the motion, saying they left the issue for the court to decide.
“I am happy,” Corman said after the ruling was made public. “This is something most have thought for some time needed to be debated publicly.”
The university saw several of the sanctions in the decree rolled back in September, including the ban on postseason play and limits on scholarships.
Penn State declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.
The news was welcomed by at least one member of the university’s board of trustees.
“Obviously today’s ruling is very significant. No longer can the NCAA and Penn State run and hide,” said trustee Anthony Lubrano. “To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, (Mark) Emmert, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.
“I, for one, cannot wait.”