State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Lawmakers prod universities in light of NCAA lawsuit

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 21, 2013 11:38 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

If there were any remaining warm and fuzzy feelings between state lawmakers and the NCAA, there’s no love lost now. Legislators and officials are reacting to the NCAA’s lawsuit against the commonwealth to overturn a brand new state law.

For those following along at home, there are now two federal lawsuits with the NCAA and Tom Corbett at the top of the docket.

Last month, Corbett sued the NCAA in federal court to dissolve penalties agreed to by Penn State in light of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case. He argued the NCAA had no authority to impose such harsh penalties. The NCAA responded by questioning the merits of the governor’s case meritless and calling it an affront to the victims of child sexual abuse.

On Wednesday, the governor signed a law to require one of those sanctions, a $60 million fine, to be spent in Pennsylvania – not nationwide – to support child abuse prevention groups.

Hours later, the NCAA filed a federal suit to overturn the law, saying it interferes with a private agreement with Penn State.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who is named as one of the defendants, said during a hearing before the state House Appropriations Committee Thursday that the NCAA’s jurisdiction needs to be clarified, and the legislature was right to step in.

“I think university presidents need to address this in a comprehensive way,” said DePasquale, “and I think legislatures need to now understand because, depending on how these things play out in court, are you on the hook for something that isn’t just a recruiting violation?”

Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) echoed a similar point Thursday afternoon. The author of the law the NCAA is now seeking to overturn released a written statement responding to the suit, encouraging state-owned and state-related universities in the commonwealth that are members of the NCAA to “call for a change in the NCAA leadership and operational standards.”

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