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Court demands NCAA emails related to Sandusky scandal

| Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, 12:53 p.m.

The NCAA faces a Friday deadline to turn over 477 emails related to the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal so a judge can determine if they can be used as evidence in an upcoming trial.

The ruling from Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey stems from a lawsuit filed by state Sen. Jake Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord challenging NCAA sanctions against Penn State,

The NCAA did not return several messages Saturday. The NCAA has argued that the lawsuit should be moot because Penn State has agreed to pay a $60 million fine, and the NCAA agreed to the payment.

Corman wouldn't say if the NCAA offered a settlement in the wake of the release of emails last week that showed that the NCAA debated whether it even had the authority to impose sanctions on Penn State.

“We've instructed our attorneys to continue with discovery and depositions,” he said. “I look forward to a trial.”

Covey instructed the NCAA to turn over the emails to determine if they fall under attorney-client privilege, which would exclude them from the trial scheduled for January.

“The Court decrees that the NCAA shall deliver a true and accurate copy, and complete email chain, without any redactions, of the 477 disputed documents,” and must contain information on who received and sent the emails, Covey wrote.

The documents will remain under seal and only be examined by the court, she said.

In 2012, the NCAA fined Penn State, banned postseason play and limited scholarships.

The lawsuit objects to a consent decree that imposed the sanctions and maintains that fines against Penn State should stay in Pennsylvania under the terms of the 2012 Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Fund.

Several sanctions, including the postseason play ban and scholarship limits, have been rolled back.

More than 100 wins by former head coach Joe Paterno between 1998 and 2011 remain vacated.

The emails were part of a motion by Corman demanding documents that the NCAA had been withholding.

“I know we are banking on the fact the school is so embarrassed they will do anything, but I am not sure about that, and no confidence conference or other members will agree to that,” NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon wrote in one email. “This will force the jurisdictional issue that we really don't have a great answer to that one … .”

“Clearly, as we're getting more and more information, it becomes clear there are problems with this process,” Corman said of the consent decree and sanctions.

The NCAA in a statement Wednesday said that the emails showed that “debate and thorough consideration is central in any organization, and that clearly is reflected in the selectively released emails.”

Downtown Attorney Robert DelGreco, who is not involved in the case, said Saturday that in light of the email release and Friday's ruling, “It's my thought that there is some momentum toward some cause of action to revisit the sanctions.”

“I think for many Penn State supporters and alumni who believed all along that they shouldn't be the subject of sanctions, and that the sanctions were draconian, that if nothing else, this could set the record straight as a practical matter,” DelGreco added.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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