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Pa. Gov's Penn State Lawsuit Against NCAA an Uphill Battle

By Andrew Lu on January 03, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over sanctions the collegiate body handed down to Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Corbett's Penn State lawsuit is an antitrust claim that argues the NCAA's penalties harm consumers and businesses in Pennsylvania and goes against a competitive marketplace, reports Reuters.

However, many legal experts say the governor's lawsuit is a long shot, if not frivolous.

Over the summer, the NCAA fined the university $60 million and voided all of the team's victories over the past 14 years.

To many Nittany Lions fans and Pennsylvanians, the sanctions seemed excessive. While there is no doubt that Jerry Sandusky's actions were horrible, and the possible culpability of school administrators unforgivable, there is a question as to why those associated with the football team today had to suffer. After all, none of the current players or workers for the team had anything to do with Sandusky's heinous acts.

So Gov. Corbett's Penn State lawsuit argues that innocent third parties like stadium workers, shopkeepers, and hoteliers are being harmed by the NCAA's excessive penalties, reports Reuters.

However, there are potential problems with the lawsuit, beginning with questions as to how the governor will have standing to argue for these individuals and shop owners. And even if he can show that he has standing, Corbett may have difficulty proving that the economic harm to individuals and shopkeepers was caused by an antitrust violation by the NCAA.

In addition, while there is strong support for Penn State football in Pennsylvania, many outsiders may see the penalties as appropriate (or even not harsh enough) given the crimes committed by Sandusky.

This is not the first time the NCAA has been sued for antitrust violations. In fact, the body has been sued 10 times in the last five years, writes Reuters. In most cases, however, courts have deferred to the NCAA in its enforcement of rules and its issuing of penalties.

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