by Jenn Miller
In what has turned into a two-part hearing in the Paterno family lawsuit against the NCAA and Penn State, attorneys made oral arguments regarding the claims the Paterno family made in its amended complaint for the case.
Discussion during the first portion of the hearing — which started at 10 a.m. at the Centre County Courthouse before Potter County Judge John Leete, who is specially presiding over the case — was heavily related to the consent decree Penn State agreed to with the NCAA regarding the sanctions.
NCAA attorney Everett Johnson Jr. argued that the plaintiffs’ claims the NCAA held a “gun to the head” of Penn State forcing the university to agree to the unprecedented sanctions is false and that Penn State simply had a choice between two undesirable options – sign the consent decree with provisions like a ban on bowl games or see the entire football program suspended.
“At the end of the day, it’s just not a game on a Saturday,” says Johnson.
Loveland later responded, “It’s not just a football game on a Saturday morning.”
Penn State attorney Daniel Booker also said it appears plaintiffs are dismissive of the university’s position in the case and that there is a perception the NCAA is so powerful that the claims of Penn State are not taken seriously.
“The view the university’s position should be ignored really flies in the face of what is now really two years of complying with the consent decree, which in some important ways has made the university stronger,” Booker says.
Booker acknowledged the consent decree was “harsh,” but at the same time “it did resolve serious threatened litigation.”
The court recessed around noon for 15 minutes. The second portion of the hearing is expected to focus on a subpoena the Paterno family wants to execute, but the NCAA and Penn State oppose.
The disputed proposed subpoena asks for a slew of documents from the Freeh investigation.
The Paterno family is seeking the subpoena as part of a lawsuit against the NCAA and Penn State. In the suit, the family asks for damages related to the sanctions the NCAA leveled against Penn State’s football program following the arrest Sandusky, who is now a convicted pedophile.
The pending subpoena targets the Pepper Hamilton law firm, the successor to Freeh’s original law firm.