Report: State Of Pennsylvania To Sue NCAA Over Penn State Sanctions


Sports Illustrated is reporting that the State of Pennsylvania will be filing a lawsuit against the NCAA over the sanctions issued against Penn State relating to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and the school’s involvement with covering them up:

The State of Pennsylvania is preparing a lawsuit against the NCAA to challenge sanctions levied against Penn State University in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. Penn State, which has been working in concert with the NCAA since the scandal, is not involved in preparing the suit. It is being handled solely by the state.

An announcement could come as early as Wednesday.

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett declined comment when reached on Monday night.

“We’re not prepared to say anything at this point,” said Corbett’s spokesman, Kevin Harley.

It is unclear if the suit will seek to overturn or reduce the NCAA’s historic penalties against Penn State. The NCAA and Pennsylvania politicians have been wrangling over whether the $60 million Penn State owes in fines to the NCAA, which will go to child abuse prevention, should be spent locally or nationally. Penn State has already deposited $12 million of that fine into an escrow account.

It is also not known whether the lawsuit will be all-encompassing and challenge the NCAA’s historic penalties against Penn State. In July, the NCAA announced penalties that included significant scholarship reductions, a four-year postseason ban and vacated wins under former coach Joe Paterno. Penn State officials said at the time they accepted such harsh penalties because they feared being dealt the so-called “death penalty,” which would mean the shutdown of the program for one or multiple years.

If the suit challenges the NCAA penalties, it could be significant in its scope with an entity as powerful as the state of Pennsylvania going up against the NCAA.

It will be interesting to see what this is all about. As noted, it could be that this is all about a dispute between the state and the NCAA over how the money that is supposed to go toward child abuse prevention will be allocated and that the state will ask a judge to resolve the dispute. If that’s the case, it would be a relatively minor matter in the grand scheme of things. If, however, the lawsuit seeks to overturn the sanctions themselves that is an entirely different matter. In the end, I can’t for the life of me figure out what grounds the state would have for such a case to begin with. Penn State agreed to be subject to the NCAA’s jurisdiction and, most importantly, they consented to the sanctions imposed upon them. How they’re going to get out of that I can’t say, but it would be an interesting fight.

For the record, it should be noted that this suit is coming directly from the state and is not being brought at the request of Penn State, although I doubt many people will make that distinction.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. edmond says:

    Suing the NCAA over a football team ranking while kids dies on the streets of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh…. Yep, we have our priorities straight in Pennsylvania

  2. Gromitt Gunn says:

    It seems odd that Gov. Corbett would like to bring his involvement in the coverup back into the public eye.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    I wonder if the politicians realize that the NCAA could always just expel Penn State from the NCAA. There is law that says that the NCAA has to keep Penn State as a member.

  4. Franklin says:

    Sorry, say that again? Did you mean the NCAA can NOT expel Penn State?

  5. 11B40 says:


    I channel surfed into a TV news report that showed the State’s Attorney saying that his case was based on the NCAA exceeding what the latter’s constitution allowed it to do.

    Nothing like watching a bunch of civil servants and non-profit operatives fighting over $60 million worth of “boodle”. In these days of charity organizations “re-gifting” the donations they receive (like the Komen breasties and Planned Parenthood, for instance), I can’t help but wonder how many of these Pennsylvanians will be going into the child sex abuse recovery and prevention business. Fungibility, I suppose.