Criminal cases made Pa. AG hand over NCAA suit

Criminal cases made Pa. AG hand over NCAA suit

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Pennsylvania's attorney general said she granted Gov. Tom Corbett the authority to file a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA because the litigation could present a conflict of interest as her office prosecutes three Penn State administrators.

Attorney General Linda Kelly told The Associated Press on Thursday that ``an actual conflict of interest could, and likely would, arise if this office were involved in both cases.''

Her office is prosecuting Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley on charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction, conspiracy, failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury. Prosecutors claim they illegally covered up complaints and suspicions about Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator who was convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including attacks inside campus facilities.

Corbett sued the NCAA in federal court on Wednesday, saying a set of penalties imposed against Penn State over its handling of the matter should be thrown out on antitrust grounds. The school agreed to a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on post-season play, a reduction in scholarships and the elimination of more than 100 wins under former coach Joe Paterno.

The size and scope of the criminal case made it ``untenable'' for the attorney general's office to sue the NCAA, Kelly said.

``Given the serious nature of both these cases, keeping these matters separate is the best course of action for the people of Pennsylvania,'' she said.

The NCAA has called Corbett's lawsuit meritless and an affront to the victims of Sandusky, who is now serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence for abuse of 10 boys over 15 years.

Spanier, forced out as president last year after Sandusky's arrest, remains a faculty member but is on paid leave. Curley is serving out the last year of his contract as athletic director, also on leave. Schultz, the school's vice president for business and finance, has retired.

All three have said they are innocent.

Under state law, the attorney general pursues and defends lawsuits involving most state agencies, but can delegate that power for reasons of efficiency or if it is otherwise deemed to be in the best interests of the state.

Kelly said her office received a request from Corbett's lawyer James D. Schultz on Friday, Dec. 14, for permission to sue the NCAA. Her office granted it three days later, she said. That authority, signed by the chief of her litigation section, can be terminated or amended by the attorney general's office, and it does not cover any appeals.

Kelly, a Republican, was nominated two years ago by Corbett, who left the office midterm after being elected governor.

Her decision drew criticism Thursday from a suburban Philadelphia politician who is considering a run against Corbett in the 2014 GOP primary. Bruce Castor, a Montgomery County commissioner and former district attorney, said the lawsuit appeared to be filed in a rush because Kelly's successor, Democrat Kathleen Kane, is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 15.

``I can't imagine any circumstances where I would have given up a case of this importance from my office,'' Castor said. ``It would be exciting. It would be challenging. It would be headline-grabbing. It would have all of the elements that I used to think made a case worthwhile of handling, if not by myself, with my staff.''

Kane did not respond to a message seeking comment left Thursday for Charlie Lyons, a top aide in her transition.

Walter Cohen, who spent nearly seven years in the attorney general's office, including a year as the attorney general, said he doubted Kane will want to take the case back.

``She's going to be handed a lot of stuff that happened under Linda Kelly, including the Curley and Schultz and Spanier prosecutions,'' Cohen said. ``That itself is a lot to do.''

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!


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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."