Sometimes even the guy who initially got it no longer gets it. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett decided to sue the NCAA over the sanction the sports organization placed on Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky fallout:
Now, Corbett has sued the N.C.A.A. on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania, alleging that it was “overreaching and unlawful” in how it punished the university, and that it broke antitrust laws and harmed residents in the process.
“These sanctions did not punish Sandusky, nor did they punish the others who have been criminally charged,” Corbett said Wednesday at a news conference in State College, Pa. “Rather, they punished the past, the present, the local businesses and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
The lawsuit, a straightforward challenge to the N.C.A.A.’s authority, asks a federal court to throw out all of the penalties against Penn State’s football program, including a $60 million fine, the vacating of a decade’s worth of victories, and a four-year ban on postseason play. However, some legal experts, including ones who have litigated against the N.C.A.A. on antitrust matters, said the governor would probably face difficulty in building a successful case, considering that the university accepted the penalties when they were announced in July.
Technically, Corbett has a point. The sanctions against Penn State do not directly affect the people actually responsible for what Sandusky did. However, the sanctions do affect the legacy those people left behind. Penn State, like many sports institutions, had a policy of turning a blind eye when it came to its high-profile sports figures because of the money and fame those people brought to the schools. Those schools have little incentive to change their ways, even with a major scandal. There may be an immediate turn around, but eventually things will go back to the way they were.
Leveling stiff sanctions that directly affect the school for an extended period of time may have a greater impact. It may make people in power change not just their policies, but also the way they see such acts. It may make them less likely to let things slide because they will face real consequences if they do.
Yes, Corbett is right that the sanctions could affect the local economy. He is right that the impact may be long-lasting. Yet what the boys Sandusky abused suffered while almost a dozen adults knew or suspected something and did nothing has a far greater reach. Penn State can recover. After a while, this will be a thin memory. Those boys, now young men, may recover, but what they suffered is not something they will forget.
But what makes Corbett’s lawsuit so odd is that he is the same man who in 2009, as the then acting attorney general, began investigating allegations against Sandusky. Of all the people who should understand, it should be Corbett. This lawsuit is a ridiculous waste of time and money. The article notes that Corbett is up for re-election next year, and one hopes that he did not file this suit in a bid to keep his job.