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Will Paterno Family's NCAA Lawsuit Move Forward?

By Betty Wang, JD on October 30, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A judge heard arguments this week in a lawsuit filed by the Paterno family. Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno's family is attempting to reverse NCAA sanctions against the school resulting from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case, The Associated Press reports.

An agreement struck between the NCAA and Penn State last year included a $60 million fine, a temporary reduction in scholarships, and a four-year ban on post-season play.

Here's a general breakdown of the family's lawsuit:

A Number of Paterno Family Claims

The court session was held shortly after Penn State announced its settlement of $59.7 million with 26 men in the Sandusky scandal, where the school's longtime coach was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse.

Paterno's estate and family are now attempting to overturn a number of sanctions imposed by the NCAA -- including the removal of around 112 wins belonging to the late Joe Paterno. The erasure has posthumously stripped away Paterno's title of Division I coach with the most wins.

However, NCAA lawyer claims that this move was not a sanction directed at the Paternos, CBS reports. "Coach Paterno doesn't own those wins," he claimed. "Those are wins at Penn State University at a time when he was an employee."

No Final Ruling Yet

The fate of the Paterno family's request to void the consent decree will ultimately fall into the hands of the judge presiding over this case.

Senior Judge John Leete, reports Raleigh's News & Observer, has yet to issue a final ruling. Judge Leete is currently considering whether or not Penn State is an indispensable party in the lawsuit.

The court's current options are to dismiss some or all of the claims or to allow the case to advance to the discovery phase. The discovery process encompasses the fact-finding and information-gathering phase in anticipation of the trial.

Judge Leete also says he's planning to issue a written opinion, but did not specify when.

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