A federal judge dismissed Gov. Tom Corbett’s lawsuit today against the NCAA seeking to overturn the sanctions, saying that his argument had “no basis in antitrust law.” Kane said the NCAA’s arguments were “strong enough to render the Governor’s action under antitrust law a Hail Mary pass.”
“In another forum the complaint’s appeal to equity and common sense may win the day, but in the antitrust world these arguments fail to advance the ball,” wrote U.S District Judge Yvette Kane.
“The fact that Penn State will offer fewer scholarships over a period of four years does not plausibly support its allegation that the reduction of scholarships at Penn State will result in a market-wide anticompetitive effect, such that the ‘nation’s top scholastic football players’ would be unable to obtain a scholarship in the nationwide market for Division I football players,” Kane wrote.
This comes as a big defeat to the battle against the NCAA, as many legal experts believe that although the NCAA used unscrupulous methods to get Penn State to sign the consent decree, Corbett and PA might not have legal standing to sue. It is unclear what this means for the separate lawsuit filed by Joe Paterno’s family, multiple university trustees, faculty members, and football alumni, but this is a not a good day for those involved in the anti-NCAA effort.
“Not only do [Corbett’s] allegations of ulterior motive lack the factual enhancement thatwould allow the Court to accept them as plausible, the Court is still faced with a more pressing problem: the complaint is fundamentally lacking inallegations that [NCAA’]s alleged ulterior motive hid a commercial purpose,” the suit reads.
This is a particularly bad day for Corbett, as it comes at the heels of a Quinnipiac poll that shows 47 percent of Pennsylvanians believe the Penn State situation will be important in their vote for governor next year. Most suspect this lawsuit had political motivations from the start as Corbett tries to improve his poor approval numbers the year before an election.
“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,” Kane wrote. “These are important questions deserving of public debate, but they are not antitrust questions.”
Corbett’s office has yet to comment or indicate if an appeal is in the works.
NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said the organization is “exceedingly pleased” with the court’s ruling.
“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,” Remy said in a statement.
You can read the entire ruling below.
(Update 3:00 p.m.) The governor’s office has released a statement on the ruling today:
“I am disappointed with the court’s decision and believe that the sanctions have harmed the citizens, students, athletes, alumni and taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Countless individuals and small businesses throughout the state will continue to suffer because of the NCAA’s actions.
“I feel strongly that the claims we raised in this lawsuit were compelling and these issues deserved a complete and thorough review by the court.
“I will continue to analyze the ruling with my legal team and review our options.’’