Penn State

Corman releases thousands of documents pertaining to NCAA lawsuit

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman talks during a news conference in Harrisburg on Jan. 16, announcing a settlement with the NCAA to void all Penn State football sanctions. At a news conference Wednesday, Corman released depositions and exhibits from that lawsuit.
State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman talks during a news conference in Harrisburg on Jan. 16, announcing a settlement with the NCAA to void all Penn State football sanctions. At a news conference Wednesday, Corman released depositions and exhibits from that lawsuit. CDT photo

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman may have settled his lawsuit with the NCAA, but he hasn’t forgiven or forgotten.

On Wednesday, he made sure the public will not forget for some time, providing a little light reading material as a reminder: more than 4,900 pages of documents from the suit, including depositions and exhibits.

The documents have been posted freely on the senator’s website, www.senatorcorman.com.

“Our goal has been to bring light to the process,” Corman said in a news conference in his Capitol office.

That included supplying copies of the documents to the state’s congressional delegation and to the members of the NCAA’s Executive Committee, to allow them an “unfiltered” view of how the events surrounding the historic penalties levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal unfolded.

Over the course of the last months of the lawsuit, Corman’s camp included many documents as exhibits to motions and responses filed in Commonwealth Court, including some that painted a picture of the behind-the-scenes discussions of the process at the NCAA.

There were emails questioning whether the college sports organization had the authority to involve itself in a criminal matter. Others showed that the threatened death penalty for the football program was all a bluff, and more described penalizing the university as “shooting at roadkill.”

Depositions have shown that university officials were directed to keep the proposed consent decree quiet, even from the full board of trustees. Corman said the documents also show how, over the course of days, the proposed sanctions grew from a one-year bowl ban to four and from a $30 million penalty to $60 million.

Looping in the executive committee is part of Corman’s hope that the group will call for an internal review of how the organization has acted, including overreaching authority in some cases. Corman said it was not a strictly Penn State issue, pointing to other harsh penalties delivered to programs such as the University of Miami.

“You would expect all members of an organization to be treated with the same fair play,” he said.

When asked if he was calling for the firing of NCAA President Mark Emmert, Corman said that was not his decision, but did say that if Emmert worked for him, that would be what he would do.

Corman blamed the organization’s focus on its own public image for its heavy-handed response that relied solely on the university-commissioned Freeh report and did not wait for the conclusion of criminal investigations of Sandusky’s case.

Although Sandusky, a retired Penn State assistant coach, was convicted of child sex crimes in 2012, just weeks before the NCAA penalties were announced, three Penn State executives accused of conspiracy and perjury and named in the Freeh report are still awaiting trial.

The senator denied making the documents public in response to comments in Centre County Court last week.

Potter County Senior Judge John Leete suggested that documents released by the Corman camp would be a way to skirt the protective order he had imposed on the lawsuit between the estate of late former Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno, two coaches and a trustee on one side and the NCAA, Penn State, Emmert and former executive committee chairman Ed Ray, the president of Oregon State University, on the other.

The NCAA responded to previous documents released in Corman filings by placing its own rebuttal documents on its website. It opposed lifting the protective order to give the Paternos freedom to “set the record straight.”

But if the NCAA doesn’t opt for its own in-house investigation, there might be another option. Corman suggested the possibility of congressional hearings on the organization’s actions.

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