Other motives to Corbett's NCAA lawsuit?
There was a whiff of politics and public relations permeating the lawsuit that Gov. Tom Corbett filed against the NCAA almost six months after Penn State accepted sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Corbett, a member of the board of trustees and former attorney general, in July called the sanctions “part of the corrective process.” On Wednesday, he railed against the sanctions and said Penn State had no choice at the time but to accept them.
And when the Corbett administration chose a law firm to file suit, one would think it would want a firm beyond reproach. But the governor hired the Philadelphia firm of Cozen O'Connor, where his general counsel, James Schultz, worked at “of counsel” before joining the administration.
The giveaway here is the hurry-up feel to this lawsuit six months after the fact. Corbett was given the authority to file suit from Linda Kelly, his hand-picked replacement as attorney general, 13 days before Democrat Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, a critic of Corbett's handling of the Sandusky case, takes office. Kane, of course, was not consulted about the lawsuit.
Corbett has been battered in the polls for the nearly three years it took to bring charges against Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 young boys over 15 years. Kane gained political headwind pledging to investigate the delay.
Cozen O'Connor is one of the top law firms in the state, no question. But there are a dozen other blue-chip firms in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh without a connection to Schultz. Regardless of the firm's expertise in antitrust matters, another firm without that tie would not raise a question.
The state's legal standing in this lawsuit appears to be thin — essentially economic damages to Penn State-area businesses. For instance, the loss of bowl games. Penn State was banned from post-season play for four years and fined $60 million under the sanctions levied in July in the aftermath of the Louis Freeh report, a university-commissioned investigation by the former FBI director, that found a culture of silence among key administrators unwilling to blow the whistle on suspicions of Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys.
Sanctions also included fewer scholarships and a waiver permitting players to transfer.
A typical viewpoint at the Capitol was that of Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne, Monroe/Carbon counties. “When the NCAA announced its sanctions against Penn State University, the governor said, ‘part of the corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed.' ” Last week, the “governor reversed his position on the sanctions calling the NCAA actions ‘unlawful' and announced his intent to file a lawsuit against the NCAA.”
While Yudichak welcomed Corbett's fight against the NCAA's “rush to judgment,” the context of the governor's announcement begged the question: “Does the lawsuit have merit or is this just politics?”
Some key Penn State boosters also would like the governor to succeed. But they, too, remain skeptical about Corbett's motives.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Fox Chapel grad VIllani performing magic for Wizards
- Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
- University of Pittsburgh researchers revisit war of electric currents
- Community comes together to mourn death of St. Clair police officer
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character