Harrisburg, PA – A judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought against the NCAA by Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, which sought to have sanctions against Penn State stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal overturned.
A $60 million fine, four-year football postseason ban, five years of probation and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998 were among the significant penalties revealed by NCAA president Mark Emmert last July.
Corbett sued the NCAA in January, calling the sanctions "overreaching and unlawful." He said the penalties would result in "irreparable economic damage to the university, the commonwealth and its citizens."
On Thursday, United States District Court Judge Yvette Kane disagreed with a 28-page ruling.
"The Governor's complaint implicates the extraordinary power of a non- governmental entity to dictate the course of an iconic public institution, and raises serious questions about the indirect economic impact of NCAA sanctions on innocent parties," Kane wrote in her conclusion. "These are important questions deserving of public debate, but they are not antitrust questions. In another forum the complaint's appeal to equity and common sense may win the day, but in the antitrust world these arguments fail to advance the ball."
The NCAA was happy with the court's ruling.
"We are exceedingly pleased with the court's thorough analysis and thoughtful opinion dismissing Governor Corbett's entire complaint," said the NCAA in a statement. "The court found the allegations made by the governor to be implausible and outside the reach of federal antitrust law."
Penn State was punished for its collective failure to report Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys over a 15-year period, to the proper authorities.
The NCAA relied heavily on the Freeh Report, the findings of an investigation commissioned by Penn State's board of trustees and conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, in its decision to penalize the university.
Corbett had said the NCAA forced Penn State into the sanctions, threatening the university with the "death penalty," a complete shut down of the football program for four years, if the school fought the issue.
Kane said Corbett's lawsuit basically had no merit in antitrust law.
"As explained, an antitrust injury must stem from a "competition-reducing" aspect of the defendant's behavior," Kane wrote. "Thus, plaintiff would need to allege that the harms threatening the natural citizens of Pennsylvania result from reduced competition in the markets identified in plaintiff's complaint, not that citizens will suffer if Penn State and its football program alone is weakened as the result of the sanctions.
"On review of the complaint, the court finds that plaintiff has not cleared this hurdle."
The NCAA still has to contend with a lawsuit from the family of the late Joe Paterno, filed on May 30, which is also seeking to overturn the sanctions levied against Penn State from the Sandusky scandal.
In February, the Paterno family released its own findings in a review of Freeh's investigation and called it "A Rush to Injustice."
Paterno was fired as Penn State's head football coach in November 2011, just days after Sandusky's arrest, and died of lung cancer in January 2012.