Corbett: NCAA 'Piled On' With Sanctions Against Penn State - FOX 10 News |

Corbett: NCAA 'Piled On' With Sanctions Against Penn State

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says the NCAA "piled on" with its sanctions against Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.

Corbett spoke Wednesday morning in State College to announce a federal anti-trust lawsuit the state is filing against the NCAA.

The governor called the NCAA's actions against the school, including a $60 million fine, "overreaching and unlawful."

However, the NCAA issued a statement of its own Wednesday, saying the lawsuit appears to be without merit and "an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy."

The punishments were related to the university's handling of the child sex scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

A jury convicted Sandusky last year on 45 counts of child sex abuse. And a judge sentenced him to at least 30 years in prison.

"Since November of 2011, Penn State University has been in the eye of a media storm," Corbett said. "It has been subject to disparagement for the unforgivable criminal actions of a child predator. Sandusky has been prosecuted and convicted for these heinous crimes and will spend the rest of his life in prison, where he belongs."

Corbett said administrators who allegedly covered up the case face criminal charges, and the victims' claims are being addressed by the university and courts.

"And in the wake of this terrible scandal, Penn State was left to heal and to clean up this tragedy that was created by the few," he asserted.

Corbett said the rebuilding continues but, "At the same time, while the healing was taking place, I believe, the NCAA took actions and piled on, choosing to levy – in their words – 'unprecedented sanctions against Penn State and its football program.'"

The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million. The money is to be used nationally to finance grants for child abuse programs, a plan that Pennsylvania lawmakers oppose. They want the money used within the state.

The sanctions also included a four-year ban on bowl games, a drastic reduction in scholarships, and past wins were wiped off the record books.

"These sanctions did not punish Sandusky, nor did they punish the others who have been criminally charged," Corbett said. "Rather, they punished the past, the present and the future students, current and former student athletes, local businesses and the citizens of Pennsylvania."

The governor said he's heard from many about the "unfairness" of the sanctions and the manner in which they were imposed.

The lawsuit claims anti-trust violations. Corbett says the matter was already being handled by the courts, and that the collegiate athletic association overstepped its bounds.

"The only logical conclusion is that the NCAA did it because they benefited from the penalties, and because the leadership of the NCAA believed that it could," Corbett said.

A group of local business owners, student leaders, alumni and others stood behind the governor as he delivered his remarks.

The lawsuit marks a shift from Corbett's initial response to the sanctions last July. At that time he expressed concern that Penn State would use any taxpayer money to pay its fines.

Former football coach Joe Paterno's family issued a statement just before Corbett spoke.

Paterno's family said that the matter is "far from closed," and they called it encouraging that "Governor Corbett now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment."

JoePa's family says they will, in the near future, release the results of their own inquiry undertaken after the report done by former FBI director Louis Freeh and the NCAA's sanctions.

In a written response Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA said it was "disappointed by the Governor's action today."

Beyond considering the lawsuit without merit, NCAA Executive Vice President and General Counsel said it's an affront to victims whose lives "were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky."

"While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward," Remy said. "Today's announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University's efforts."

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