UNIVERSITY PARK -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced Wednesday morning that he is suing the NCAA in federal court to get all NCAA sanctions against Penn State overturned.
Corbett held a news conference on the Penn State campus to announce the lawsuit that is being filed Wednesday afternoon. He said the NCAA sanctions that were announced last summer were "overreaching and unlawful."
“These sanctions are an attack on the past, present, and future students of Penn State, the citizens of our commonwealth and our economy,” said Governor Corbett. “As governor of this commonwealth, I cannot and will not stand by and let it happen without a fight.”
The NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions in July in response to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. It imposed a $60 million fine, four-year bowl and championship ban and scholarship limitations. It also took away all Penn State victories since 1998.
The NCAA fired back with a statement reading: "We are disappointed by the Governor's action today. Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy, lives that 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. Today's announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University's efforts."
The Paterno family also released a statement regarding the lawsuit. It reads: "As we have not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit filed by Governor Corbett today, we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation. What we do know, however, is that this matter is far from closed. The fact that Governor Corbett now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment is encouraging. Joe Paterno's only guidance to us was to seek the truth. Consequently, last July when the Freeh report was released and the subsequent unprecedented and unjustified actions were taken by the Penn State University Board and the NCAA, we stated that we would engage a team of experts to conduct a careful and thoughtful review of the Freeh inquiry and the actions of the Board and the Administration. That process is nearing completion. We expect to release the analysis of the experts in the near future. At that time we will address all of the issues of the past year in a comprehensive manner.
Fans have mixed reactions about Governor Corbett's lawsuit.
Penn State fan David Heim is glad to see someone challenge the NCAA, but questions Governor Corbett's delay in doing it.
“He's managed to get everything every which way wrong until now,” said Heim.
“I think it's kind of ironic and very hypocritical of him because at first, I don't believe he really defended Penn State much when it did happen,” said Naser Saleh, PSU graduate.
Recent Penn State grad Naser Saleh is right. Back in July Corbett issued a statement accepting the stiff NCAA sanctions.
Average attendance at Beaver Stadium for games this season was down to around 96,000, the lowest since seating was expanded to 106,000 11 years ago.
Some business owners who stood by the governor at his news conference said fewer fans mean less business. They said the sanctions get some of the blame.
The owner of the Tavern restaurant downtown fears the NCAA's impact will be long lasting.
“It's really not four years of sanctions with what they've done, with how they recruit, it's really seven years. It's four years of bowl games, but those sanctions kick in later that we'll still be struggling to compete in year six,” said Pat Daugherty of the Tavern Restaurant.
You can read the lawsuit here: Corbett Lawsuit