The NCAA may have been accused of “forum shopping” by the Commonwealth Court, but that is not stopping the college sports organization from pleading its case to the feds.
In documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Friday, the NCAA objected to Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord’s cross-motion for judgment.
The move comes after the Commonwealth Court upheld the constitutionality of the Endowment Act on Oct. 31. The NCAA is suing McCord and Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chairman Mark Zimmer over the enforceability of the act, which would require the $60 million fine levied against Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal to remain in Pennsylvania.
In the court’s decision, Judge Anne Covey used the word “deplorable” to describe the NCAA’s actions, saying they were hunting for a judge who would give them “a more favorable ruling.”
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After that, McCord attorney Christopher Craig asked the federal court to go along with the Commonwealth Court’s opinion and dismiss the NCAA’s complaint.
But the NCAA is still taking issue with some of the McCord arguments on legal grounds, namely the idea of res judicata. Those are Latin words meaning “a matter judged,” or a legal concept meaning that once one court has already decided an issue, it can’t be rehashed in a different court by the same parties.
McCord’s attorneys, and counsel for state Sen. Jake Corman, McCord’s co-plaintiff in the Commonwealth Court case, have argued that Covey’s decision should prevent the NCAA from getting a federal ruling on the same issues.
The NCAA disputes that, claiming that because Covey’s ruling was a partial judgment on a case still headed toward a January trial, it “is not a final order under Pennsylvania law.”
“The Commonwealth Court likewise explained that ‘the disposition of this motion does not resolve the outstanding factual questions pertaining to the validity of the consent decree,’ ” wrote Everett Johnson, of Lathan and Watkins LLP, of Washington, D.C.
The consent decree is the document at the heart of both cases, the agreement by which Penn State accepted the NCAA’s unprecedented punishment, including five years’ probation, a four-year bowl ban, scholarship restrictions and the erasure of 112 football wins.