McCord counters NCAA arguments in federal court

Pennsylvania Treasurer, Rob McCord (D).
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Rob McCord (D). AP

Why should the $60 million fine levied against Penn State by the NCAA after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal stay in Pennsylvania?

Treasurer Rob McCord has answered that question for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in the latest volley of legal filings.

McCord’s chief counsel, Christopher Craig, filed a 96-page response in opposition to the NCAA’s motion for judgment in its case against McCord and Mark Zimmer, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Gov. Tom Corbett and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale also are named in the document, although they were dismissed as defendants earlier this week.

The heart of the case is the NCAA’s opposition to Pennsylvania’s Endowment Act, legislation designed to keep the fine money imposed on Penn State in the commonwealth. The motion seeks a quick judgment on the constitutionality of that law, which would trump a planned trial in Commonwealth Court to discuss the validity of the consent decree that put the fine in place.

The consent decree requires the money to be paid into an endowment to help victims of child sex abuse or for programming to prevent it.

“The consent decree is silent as to any detail regarding the endowment, management, safekeeping and prioritization of the funds beyond the general purpose of preventing or assisting victims of child abuse,” McCord’s response reads. The Endowment Act, in turn, supplies those boundaries, creating a framework for the administration of fine money, with the treasurer as custodian.

Craig suggested in the document that there is no reason for the higher court to reject the opinion of the Commonwealth Court, which found the law to be constitutional earlier this year.

“Nothing within the consent decree conveys to the NCAA ownership of the fine money ...” Craig responded. “The consent decree provides that the penalty funds are to be paid ‘into an endowment,’ a trust for which the beneficiaries are neither the NCAA nor (Penn State). ... The Endowment Act’s allocation of the funds does not depart from the NCAA’s stated intention.”

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