Gov. Tom Corbett signals fight over NCAA motion to dismiss lawsuit

Gov. Tom Corbett will challenge the NCAA’s motion to dismiss his federal antitrust lawsuit that seeks to overturn the sanctions against Penn State.

James D. Schultz, the state’s general counsel, defended the lawsuit in a statement Friday, saying his legal team is preparing a response to the NCAA’s request for federal Judge Yvette Kane to throw it out.

The NCAA said in the motion Thursday that the governor does not have legal standing to file the lawsuit. The NCAA also said the sanctions do not violate antitrust laws as the governor had alleged.

“I have confidence in Governor Tom Corbett’s legal position and firmly believe that the harsh sanctions imposed by the NCAA against Penn State are not only unprecedented, but also unwarranted and the result of a flawed process,” Schultz said.

Corbett filed the lawsuit on Jan. 2 in federal court in Harrisburg.

Corbett accused the NCAA of going outside its rules when it punished Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky criminal case. He said the sanctions that include a $60 million fine, a 4-year bowl ban and a loss of scholarships violate antitrust laws and will weaken the team.

The governor said a weaker Nittany Lions football team will have a spillover effect, hurting the economy in State College that sees tens of thousands of fans converge on the area during weekends in the fall.

“The NCAA sanctions are in violation of their own procedures and bylaws and were forced upon Penn State in a manner that punishes current and future students, along with the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, for actions which they had no involvement or control,” Schultz said. “Given the impact of the NCAA’s actions on Pennsylvanians, Governor Corbett’s standing and duty to intervene is clear.”

Penn State is not a party to the lawsuit.