Nationals

Pa. governor sues NCAA over Penn State sanctions

Pa. governor sues NCAA over Penn State sanctions

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Pennsylvania's governor, in a challenge to the NCAA's powers, claimed in a lawsuit Wednesday that college sports' governing body overstepped its authority and ``piled on'' when it penalized Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Gov. Tom Corbett asked that a federal judge throw out the sanctions, which include an unprecedented $60 million fine and a four-year ban on bowl games, arguing that the measures have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky's crimes.

``A handful of top NCAA officials simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police under their own bylaws and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system,'' Corbett said at a news conference.

The case, filed under federal antitrust law, could define just how far the NCAA's authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed the organization broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics.

In a statement, the NCAA said the lawsuit has no merit and called it an ``affront'' to Sandusky's victims.

Penn State said it had no role in the lawsuit. In fact, it agreed not to sue as part of the deal with the NCAA accepting the sanctions, which were imposed in July after an investigation found that football coach Joe Paterno and other top officials hushed up sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky, a former member of Paterno's staff, for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity.

The penalties include a cut in the number of football scholarships the university can award and a rewriting of the record books to erase 14 years of victories under Paterno, who was fired when the scandal broke in 2011 and died of lung cancer a short time later.

The lawsuit represents a reversal by the governor. When Penn State's president consented to the sanctions last summer, Corbett, a member of the Board of Trustees, embraced them as part of the university's effort to repair the damage from the scandal.

Corbett said he waited until now to sue over the ``harsh penalties'' because he wanted to thoroughly research the legal issues and did not want to interfere with the football season.

The deal with the NCAA has been unpopular with many fans, students and alumni. Corbett, who is up for re-election next year, deflected a question about whether his response has helped or hurt him politically.

``We're not going to get into the politics of this,'' he said.

An alumni group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, applauded the lawsuit but said Corbett should have asked questions when the NCAA agreement was made.

``If he disapproved of the terms of the NCAA consent decree, or if he thought there was something illegal about them, why didn't he exercise his duty to act long before now?'' the group said.

Paterno's family members said in a statement that they were encouraged by the lawsuit. Corbett ``now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment,'' they said.

Corbett's lawsuit accuses the NCAA of cynically exploiting the Sandusky case, saying its real motives were to ``gain leverage in the court of public opinion, boost the reputation and power of the NCAA's president'' and ``enhance the competitive position of certain NCAA members.'' It said the NCAA has not cited a rule that Penn State broke.

Corbett charged that the NCAA violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibits agreements that restrain interstate commerce. Legal experts called it an unusual case whose outcome is difficult to predict.

The NCAA has faced antitrust litigation before, with a mixed record of success. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA's exclusive control over televised college football games. And in 1998, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that said the NCAA's salary cap for some assistant coaches was unlawful price-fixing.

But federal courts have consistently rejected antitrust challenges to NCAA rules and enforcement actions designed to preserve competitive balance, academic integrity and amateurism in college athletics.

In this case, the courts might not be as sympathetic to the NCAA, said Matthew Mitten, director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School.

``It's difficult to justify the sanctions as necessary to protect the amateur nature of college sports, preserve competitive balance or maintain academic integrity,'' he said.

Joseph Bauer, an antitrust expert at the University of Notre Dame law school, said of Corbett's line of reasoning: ``I don't think it's an easy claim for them to make, but it's certainly a viable claim.''

Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys, some of them on Penn State's campus. He is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence but insists he's innocent.

Michael Boni, a lawyer for one of Sandusky's accusers, said he does not consider the lawsuit an affront. But he said he hopes Corbett takes a leading role in pushing for changes to state child-abuse laws.

``I really question who he's concerned about in this state,'' Boni said.

Michael Desmond, a businessman who appeared with Corbett at the news conference, said business at his five State College eating establishments was down about 10 percent during Penn State home game weekends this year.

``The governor's actions are going to be immensely popular with all Penn State alumni,'' Desmond said.

Corbett, a Republican, said his office did not coordinate its legal strategy with state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 15. Instead, the current attorney general, Linda Kelly, granted the governor authority to pursue the matter.

Kane, a Democrat, ran on a vow to investigate why it took prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky. Corbett was attorney general when his office took over the case in 2009.

Kane had no comment on the lawsuit because she was not consulted about it by Corbett's office.

State and congressional lawmakers have objected to use of the NCAA fine to finance child-abuse prevention efforts in other states. Penn State has already made the first $12 million payment, and an NCAA task force is deciding how it should be spent.

---

Associated Press writers Peter Jackson in Harrisburg and Michael Rubinkam contributed.

Quick Links

How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

bens-chili-bowl-usat.jpg
AP Images

How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: