The legal war is on between Pennsylvania and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body of college athletics, over Penn State's fine in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is suddenly in the middle of the skirmish. He was named by the NCAA in its suit against the commonwealth.
- The NCAA hit Penn State with a $60 million fine and other sanctions.
- The state legislature passed a bill, and Governor Tom Corbett signed into law, a measure mandating that the $60 million be used in Pennsylvania.
- The NCAA called that law unconstitutional and sued the governor, treasurer and auditor general.
Basically, the NCAA says Pennsylvania doesn't have the power to pass laws thwarting NCAA jurisdiction. DePasquale says it can, it has, and for now the cash is staying in the commonwealth.
"If the court says the legislature and the governor had no right to do that, we would deal with that at that point, but right now we have a law on the books," DePasquale said.
Interestingly, DePasquale played baseball in college. He was a student-athlete. He concedes that if every school that gets fined by the NCAA had its lawmakers pass laws to keep the money in the home state, it would be chaos.
Speaking after a noon-time appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club, DePasquale seemed to acknowledge that the law may be on shaky ground, but he also stressed that the NCAA made several missteps in the Sandusky case that forced the hand of the legislature and the governor.
"On this whole issue, you have to start at the beginning, how did we get to this point in the first place, and that was by an NCAA investigation that never really happened," DePasquale said. "They simply took the Freeh Report and levied sanctions. There should have been a more deliberative process by the NCAA."
It's now up to a court to decide and DePasquale will carry out the wishes of the legal system, but he wishes it didn't come to that.
"I think it makes sense across the board for everybody to take a deep breath and try to figure out how we got here and how we fix the problem moving forward as opposed to just try to figure out whose lawyers are better than whose," he said.