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NCAA sues Corbett over attempt to keep Penn State fines in Pa.

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:24 p.m.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the embattled governing body for major college athletics, fired another volley on Wednesday in the battle over sanctions imposed on Penn State in the wake of a child-sex abuse cover-up at the university.

The NCAA sued Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials in federal court, hours after Corbett signed legislation requiring the organization direct the $60 million in fines against Penn State to agencies only within Pennsylvania.

The NCAA said that legislation, which calls for the creation of a state-controlled endowment for the distribution of fine proceeds, are unconstitutional and amounts to the state illegally attempting to interfere with the sanctions agreement signed last July by the organization and Penn State.

The state's actions, the NCAA lawsuit said, would disrupt interstate commerce by attempting to legislate where private parties like the NCAA spend their money and by confiscating funds intended for the victims of child-sexual abuse nationwide to be used solely for the benefit of Pennsylvania residents, at the direction of Pennsylvania officials.

The lawsuit again raised the issue of the murky jurisdiction the NCAA used to sanction Penn State for issues far outside its usual realm of oversight, and whether the state can retroactively impose its laws on a national organization based in Indianapolis.

“State governments can't simply pass laws to rewrite private agreements and divert private money to their own coffers,” Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief legal officer, said in a statement. “This is an important principle of federal constitutional law that affects not just the NCAA, but also any party seeking to do business with a state-related or private entity. The state has attempted to grant itself the ability to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. The United States Constitution does not permit this kind of legislative overreach.”

The NCAA also named as defendants in the lawsuit: state treasurer Rob McCord, the custodian of the endowment fund; auditor general Eugene DePasquale and the chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Mark R. Zimmer.

The NCAA's lawsuit did not address Corbett's lawsuit last month challenging the NCAA's authority to impose the sanctions, which included the fines, a four-season bowl ban and the elimination of 20 football scholarships.

The organization has asked a federal judge to dismiss that claim.

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