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Corbett accuses NCAA of illegal sanctions against Penn State - abc27 WHTM

Corbett accuses NCAA of illegal sanctions against Penn State

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) -

Governor Tom Corbett has announced a lawsuit against the NCAA over the sanctions it imposed against Penn State University last year in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

Corbett on Wednesday called the unprecedented sanctions "arbitrary and illegal." He said they would result in irreparable economic damage to the university, the commonwealth and its citizens.

"While what occurred at Penn State was both criminal and heinous, the conduct for which Penn State was sanctioned consisted of alleged failures to report criminal activity on campus that did not impact fairness or integrity on the playing field," Corbett said.

Penn State in July agreed to the sanctions, which included a $60 million fine to finance child abuse prevention grants, a four-year bowl game ban for the football program, reduced football scholarships and the forfeiture of 112 wins.

Corbett said the sanctions threaten to have a devastating, long-lasting and irreparable effect on the state, its citizens and its economy. He is asking the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg to throw out all of the sanctions and to declare the consent agreement illegal.

The governor said that after months of research and deliberation, as well as discussions with alumni, students, faculty, business owners and elected officials, he has concluded that the NCAA's sanctions were "overreaching and unlawful.''

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

The lawsuit also accuses the NCAA of forcing Penn State president Rodney Erickson into silent compliance with its sanctions by threatening to impose the "death penalty" for four years, which would forbid the football team from all competition.

Corbett said that while the alleged actions of those involved in the tragic events at Penn State were criminal, no violation of NCAA rules were identified. He accused NCAA president Mark Emmert of seizing upon international publicity to "make a show of unprecedented and aggressive discipline."

"The NCAA leadership can't make up its own rules," Corbett said. "A handful of top NCAA officials simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system."

Sandusky, a retired Penn State assistant football coach, was found guilty of sexually abusing boys in June and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison.

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