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40-Page Paterno Lawsuit Against NCAA Filed

As was announced last night on “Costas tonight,” a lawsuit against the NCAA was filed in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas. Parties include the Paterno estate, Penn State trustees Ryan McCombie, Anthony Lubrano, Al Clemens, Peter Khoury, and Adam Taliaferro; faculty members Peter Bordi, Terry Engelder, Spencer Niles and John O’Donnell; former Penn State football coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno; and former Penn State football players, Anthony Adams, Gerald Cadogan, Shamar Finney, Justin Kurpeikis, Richard Gardner, Josh Gaines, Patrick Mauti, Anwar Phillips, and Michael Robinson. The lawsuit was filed against the NCAA, Mark Emmert, both individually and as NCAA president, and Ed Ray, former chair of the NCAA Executive Committee.

“This action challenges the unlawful conduct of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), its President, and the former Chairman of its Executive Committee in connection with their improper interference in and gross mishandling of a criminal matter that falls far outside the scope of their authority,” the lawsuit begins. “Defendants breached their contractual obligations and violated their duties of good faith and fair dealing, intentionally and tortiously interfered with Plaintiffs’ contractual relations,and defamed and commercially disparaged Plaintiffs.”

The 40-page lawsuit blasts the merits of the Freeh report and the NCAA’s coercive methods when handing down the sanctions.

“The NCAA has no authority to investigate or impose sanctions on member institutions for criminal matters unrelated to athletic competition at the collegiate level,” the suit states. “The criminal conduct of [Sandusky], which occurred in 1998 and 2001, was not an athletics issue properly regulated by the NCAA. [The NCAA’s] actions far exceeded the scope of [its] authority.”

The lawsuit charges NCAA, Emmert, and Ray with six different counts, including breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation, and commercial disparagement.

“The Freeh Report was an improper and unreliable “rush to injustice,” and it has been thoroughly discredited,” the suit states. “In preparing its report, the Freeh firm did not complete a proper investigation, failed to interview key witnesses, and instead of supporting its conclusions with evidence, relied heavily on speculation and innuendo. Contrary to suggestions made in the Freeh Report, there is no evidence that Joe Paterno covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football, to avoid bad publicity, or for any other reasons.”

These should be familiar arguments to those who have followed the Penn State situation closely. The question remains, however, as to what standing the lawsuit has in court since Penn State signed the NCAA consent decree, willingly or not. Penn State is not part of any lawsuit and has been reluctant to criticize the NCAA and its tactics since accepting the sanctions last July.

“Emmert viewed the scandal involving Jerry Sandusky as an opportunity to deflect attention from mounting criticisms, to shore up the NCAA’s faltering reputation, to broaden the NCAA’s authority beyond its defined limits, and to impose enormous monetary sanctions on Penn State for his and the NCAA’s benefit,” the suit states. “The Court has personal jurisdiction over [the NCAA] because they carry on a continuous and systematic part of their general business in Pennsylvania.  The Court also has jurisdiction because, among other things, [the NCAA’s] transacted business and caused harm in Pennsylvania.”

The lawsuit charges NCAA, Emmert, and Ray with six different counts, including breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation, and commercial disparagement.

“As part of this unlawful course of action, Emmert, Dr. Ray, and other members of the NCAA conspired together and with the Freeh firm to circumvent the NCAA rules, strip Plaintiffs of their procedural protections under those rules, and level allegations against Penn State and certain of its officials in the absence of facts or evidence supporting those allegations,” the suit states. “The considerable achievements of the former student athletes have beenwiped out by the NCAA’s unjustified and unlawful sanctions, which vacated all of Penn State’swins during the athletes’ careers. This has injured their reputations, negatively affecting their professional careers in football and in other fields.”

The lawsuit seeks a number of remedies, including a declaration that the NCAA’s actions were unlawful, an injunction on the sanctions, and punitive damages. The family has stated that any damages it may receive from the NCAA will be donated to charity.

You can read the lawsuit in its entirety below.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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