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Gov. Corbett meets with PSU football players

| Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett met with more than 70 former Penn State football players and coaches earlier this week as he pushes ahead with a lawsuit against the NCAA.

Corbett hosted dinner Tuesday at the governor's mansion in Harrisburg and updated the group on the lawsuit, which contests NCAA sanctions against Penn State's football program. Corbett wanted to address questions or concerns the players had about the lawsuit and asked those who attended to keep confidential what was discussed.

“I was confident (in the lawsuit) prior to the dinner,” said Tim Sweeney, a Derry graduate who played linebacker on Penn State's 1986 national championship team, “and I didn't lose confidence coming out.”

Sweeney and former Nittany Lions offensive lineman Todd Rucci helped organize the dinner, Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said.

“The governor thought it went real well,” Harley said. “It was a good opportunity for them to learn firsthand why he took action against the NCAA.”

The dinner took place a day before the NCAA admitted it botched an investigation of Miami (Fla.)'s football program.

The missteps, which included illegally obtaining information regarding booster gifts to players, opened the oft-maligned organization to more criticism. They also raised questions of whether the blow to the NCAA's credibility might help Corbett win the lawsuit he filed Jan. 2.

“All Penn Staters are following what's happening to the NCAA very closely, and maybe the rest of the country is finally finding out that this organization isn't what it should be,” said Sweeney, who served as president of Penn State's Lettermen's Club from 2010 through December. “Frankly, I think (NCAA president) Mark Emmert ought to consider stepping down because it's apparent he's lost control of his organization and he comes across as some sort of dictator.”

Harley declined to comment on how the mishandling of the Miami investigation could help the governor's lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks to end sanctions the NCAA levied against Penn State's football program in July in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Sanctions included a four-year ban on postseason play, a significant loss of scholarships and $60 million fine.

Corbett reversed course after initially saying Penn State needed to accept the sanctions. He said earlier this month the NCAA overstepped its authority in punishing the program for a criminal matter. He also said the sanctions unfairly punished Penn State students and alumni as well as Pennsylvania residents. Penn State, which agreed to the sanctions, is not part of the lawsuit.

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ScottBrown_Trib.

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