Tom Corbett to Sue NCAA Over Penn State Sanctions: Why Now?

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) is bringing an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over the Penn State sanctions.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) is bringing an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over the Penn State sanctions.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) has decided to not let the NCAA sanctions placed on Penn State University stand without a fight. The Governor on Wednesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA on the behalf of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He did so on the grounds that the sanctions against the University were “overreaching and unlawful.” The Governor also went on to characterize the sanctions as an attack on past, present and future Penn Staters as well as the good of the economy in the state.

The action of suing the NCAA over these sanctions is not in itself all that eye raising. What draws questions is the timing of it all. Why would Tom Corbett wait until now to file a lawsuit against the NCAA when Penn State has already agreed to these sanctions when they were imposed in July? Also, why would you do so when the program has already completed Year 1 of the imposed 4-year ban? What does Corbett have to gain in all this?

Back in July, when the sanctions were handed down, Corbett was on board:

“Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

So why the change of heart? Corbett has taken the stand that at the time he did indeed agree with the unprecedented sanctions because of the unprecedented nature of the atrocities committed at Penn State. Now however, Corbett believes that the NCAA violated several of their own rules (SEE: NCAA Rules for Infractions) as well as the antitrust laws of the United States. Penn State was essentially given the choice of accepting the harsh penalties imposed against them or to accept the dreaded program crippling death penalty. Corbett believed this threat put Penn State in a position where they had no other choice but to go along with the sanctions.

Corbett also argued that NCAA rules dictate that the NCAA Infraction Committee be the one to conduct investigations and to decide appropriate punishments. In this instance, the executive committee took that role and Corbett believes that is an NCAA rules violation.

With all that said, it does indeed seem that Corbett has a case against the NCAA that is feasible but what is he expecting to gain from this? He is citing that it is crippling to the economy and local business in the State College region. However, Penn State football games are still heavily attended and the underdog story brought them tons of national attention this past season due to their good play. Will a draw back on these sanctions bring a significant benefit to the economy?

NCAA President Mark Emmert delivered the sanctions against Penn State back in July 2012.

NCAA President Mark Emmert delivered the sanctions against Penn State back in July 2012.

Some critics are using the angle that this lawsuit, which is being paid for with tax-payer dollars, is nothing more than a political ploy on Corbett’s part to gain favor in a possible re-election bid. State College, Pa is located in Centre County which gave Corbett a 55% to 45% win over Dan Onorato (D) back in 2010. Obviously this lawsuit, especially if it results in a win, will only help Corbett’s standing in the county and the surrounding region. Despite being a small county, with the Democratic sway of cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, it is crucial for Republicans to get every small county they possibly can.

Corbett claims that he is bringing this lawsuit up now because it is the right thing to do.

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