Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Corbett’s lawsuit to overturn Penn State sanctions set for May

Gov. Tom Corbett’s antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA to overturn the sanctions against Penn State finally will see the inside of a courtroom in May.

A judge has scheduled a hearing at 10 a.m. May 1 in the federal courthouse in Harrisburg for oral arguments over the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Yvette Kane will preside over the hearing.

Corbett sued the NCAA in January, asking a judge to step in and nix the sanctions that include a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions and bowl ban. A confident Corbett publicized the lawsuit via a news conference from the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State’s campus with business leaders and local Republican lawmakers in tow.

Penn State is not a party in the lawsuit, and officials have said they have no intention of joining it.

Corbett said the sanctions violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act by weakening Penn State’s football team on the field. The governor is claiming that State College economy will suffer because of fans having less interest in a weakened team.

But the NCAA fired back, asking that the judge throw out the lawsuit.

The NCAA’s lawyers said Corbett does not have the legal standing to file a lawsuit that pertains to Penn State. The NCAA also has said the consent decree that Penn State President Rodney Erickson signed does not stifle competition, but instead, it enforces integrity. The NCAA has maintained, too, that the lawsuit does not make a case for how the sanctions hurt Penn State’s economic competition.

In a statement, Pennsylvania’s general counsel James Schultz said he was confident about the legal merits of the case.

Legal experts have been split on whether the governor’s lawsuit has merit. Some said they were doubtful the governor had standing and were not surprised the NCAA filed its motion to dismiss.

The sanctions, and the way the university’s leadership accepted the sanctions, have been a sore spot for alumni.

Candidates for the Penn State’s board of trustees have made the sanctions an issue in the race this spring, saying the university should have stood up to the NCAA and must work to get the punishment reduced or overturned.

But university officials, such as Erickson, have said their backs were up against the wall and were forced to choose between the sanctions or the so-called “death penalty” of no football.