The NCAA suffered another blow Wednesday in its challenge of a 2013 state law that would prevent millions of dollars in sanctions imposed against Penn State from leaving Pennsylvania.
In a one-sentence decision, the Commonwealth Court denied the NCAA’s request to re-argue its preliminary objections in the case. The organization wanted the court to reconsider its April 9 decision that backed the constitutionality of the Endowment Act.
The act was passed last year by state legislators to determine how to spend the fine money levied against Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. The law calls for all the money to be spent on child-abuse prevention and awareness programs in the state.
The decision issued Wednesday by President Judge Dan Pellegrini can be viewed as a victory for the Endowment Act’s author, state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, and state treasurer Rob McCord, who together are seeking enforcement of the act.
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The NCAA had argued the Endowment Act was unconstitutional because it pertained to one circumstance, the agreement between Penn State and NCAA.
While the court’s previous decision found the act to be constitutional, it stopped short of enforcing the law, meaning Corman and McCord’s lawsuit will continue. The justices also ordered Penn State to become a party to the lawsuit.
Penn State entered into the consent decree with the NCAA, agreeing to pay the $60 million fine to avoid facing the so-called death penalty and halting football in Happy Valley for perhaps four years. The university also agreed to a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and the erasing of 111 wins from the Joe Paterno era.
The court’s previous ruling appeared to open the door to a review of the consent decree.
The majority ruled that the NCAA opened itself to questions about the consent decree in previous court filings.
The organization argued it had privilege to enter the agreement, acted in good faith and imposed sanctions in response to conduct in violation of the NCAA’s constitution and bylaws.
Pellegrini, who dissented on the Endowment Act constitutionality issue, agreed with the majority’s criticism of the consent decree, writing that he was “bewildered” that the Penn State board of trustees would enter into the agreement because the matter “ordinarily would not be actionable by the NCAA.”
The court said in that ruling that it needs more information about the consent decree before determining whether it was entered into legally.