Penn State

Corman reviews NCAA deal, eyes Big Ten penalty vs. Penn State, discusses county’s legal controversies

“Due process matters,” said state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township.

Corman sat down Tuesday with the Centre Daily Times’ editorial board to talk about a lot of issues. Many were familiar ground, like his two-year lawsuit against Penn State and the NCAA over the $60 million fine after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

“For an outside entity to come in and just remove that money, I just thought it should be spent here in Pennsylvania,” said Corman, explaining the outset of the case, which evolved into the Endowment Act and eventually became a question of whether the process of how the NCAA punished the university was even legal.

Some supporters eagerly awaited the trial in that case but, instead, it was settled in January when the consent decree, the agreement that put the punishments in place, was repealed. Why settle?

“We had already won everything else. A settlement gives you certainty,” Corman said. “The importance of the repeal wasn’t the victories. It gets rid of the precedent. It can’t be done again at another school.”

Although the consent decree was repealed, the Endowment Act, which governs how certain monetary penalties against a Pennsylvania university are spent, has not been. That may give Corman a new fight.

“We sent the Big Ten a letter,” he said.

In February, the Big Ten announced that it was stepping back from its own big penalty against the university, restoring bowl revenues from postseason play.

At that time, Penn State football spokesman Jeff Nelson said the 2011-12 revenue share was $2.6 million. Corman said the Big Ten had not yet responded to his inquiries but that the subsequent seasons of withheld funds, including Ohio State’s national championship win for 2014, could meet the $10 million threshold to trigger the Endowment Act and demand that money be held in trust by the state.

That could become complicated as Penn State’s share of that money was supposed to be divided among the other members of the conference and distributed to child-related groups in those areas. How would Corman address that?

“That remains to be seen,” he said. “I just want them to follow up.”

Due process also matters in other areas, he said, including the ongoing controversies at the Centre County Courthouse.

“ ‘What the heck is going on in your home county, Jake?’ ” Corman said he hears from his colleagues in Harrisburg as the nest of lawsuits, subpoenas, Right-to-Know requests and more unfold between county commissioners, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and at least three judges.

It hit close to home when another controversy hit President Judge Thomas King Kistler, Corman’s pick for a state Supreme Court seat. A questionable email of Kistler’s was made public. Kistler resigned from the race shortly thereafter, not crediting the email issue but saying there was too much going on in his courthouse.

“There is a lot of crazy stuff going on in Pennsylvania,” Corman said, pointing to legal problems for Attorney General Kathleen Kane and former treasurer Rob McCord, among others. “I still think Tom Kistler would be a good Supreme Court judge.”