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Judge Tosses Corbett’s NCAA Lawsuit

A federal judge called Governor Tom Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA a “Hail Mary Pass” in a ruling Thursday tossing out the suit.  Corbett was hoping to overturn unprecedented NCAA sanctions against Penn State.

Federal Judge Yvette Kane’s ruling is filled with football references.  She called Corbett’s case “a Hail Mary Pass.”  She wrote that the NCAA went on an “all out blitz” to fight the lawsuit.  And she said Corbett’s attempt to stop the sanctions “fails to advance the ball.”

With this ruling the NCAA sanctions against Penn State continue to stand.

The federal judge shot down what Governor Tom Corbett started back in Janauary when he launched his fight against the NCAA.

“The NCAA did it because they believed they could benefit from the penalties and because the leadership of the NCAA believed that it could,” said Corbett back in January at a news conference surrounded by Penn State students, former players and Centre County business owners.

Corbett made the case that the NCAA’s harsh punishment on Penn State was an antitrust case, making the NCAA a monopoly of sorts, limiting Penn State’s competitiveness, and hurting all Pennsylvanians.

But in her ruling, the judge shot that down.

“These are important questions deserving of public debate, but they are not antitrust questions.  In another forum the complaint’s appeal to equity and common sense may win the day, but in the antitrust world, these agruments fail to advance the ball,” wrote Judge Kane in her ruling.

Governor Corbett said Thursday afternoon that he is now reviewing his options with his legal team.

“I don’t believe it was a Hail Mary pass,” said Corbett about the judge’s ruling.  “I didn’t get into football analogies, our lawsuit didn’t get into football analogies. I believe and still believe we had a legitimate basis to bring this on and we’ll just have to make a determination what the next step will be.”

The judge made clear, the issues raised in the lawsuit questioning the NCAA are important ones.  But didn’t find that Corbett’s allegations in January violated the law.
“The Governor’s complaint implicates the extraordinary power of a non-governmental entity to dictate the course of an iconic public institution and raises serious questions about the indirect economic impact of NCAA sanctions on innocent parties,” she wrote.

To that, Corbett said, “In my opinion, the students the alumni, the people and businesses of Central PA are the ones being harmed by the NCAA, they’re actually punishing those people and I don’t think they have any right to be punishing those people.”

The NCAA responded to the judge’s ruling with a statement Thursday morning.

“Our hope is that this decision not only will end this case but also serve as a beginning of the end of the divide among those who, like Penn State, want to move forward to put the horror of the Sandusky crimes behind the university and those who want to prolong the fight and with it the pain for all involved,” said NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy.


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