This entry has been updated to include a comment from State Treasurer Rob McCord, a co-plaintiff in the case to win enforcement of a law requiring the Penn State fine money to be used in Pennsylvania.Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court gave the NCAA a one-two punch Wednesday.First, the court dismissed an NCAA challenge to a 2013 law passed by the General Assembly requiring that proceeds from the association's million fine on Penn State be used exclusively for child sexual abuse prevention and treatment in Pennsylvania.Secondly, the court appeared to open the door to a full-blown argument on the validity of in which the NCAA and Penn State agreed to a set of harsh penalties again the football program to avoid, among other things, a shutdown of the program.That was a surprise to Sen. Jake Corman, the Centre County Republican who drafted the law in question, but one he appears eager to pursue."This was not the original intent of the legislation or our lawsuit," Corman said, "but now that the court has opened up that potential we certainly have to explore it."Corman was joined in his lawsuit by State Treasurer Rob McCord, whose office is designated to receive the fine payments under the newly-validated law.McCord, like Corman, expressed delight with the court's decision in a statement released Wednesday, and added thathis staff "is ready to help ensure that this penalty money benefits Pennsylvania-based child abuse programs."
He also said he shares the court's concerns that the NCAA overstepped its authority in imposing the consent decree.MORE: The NCAA penalties were handed down as punishment for Penn State's complicated role in in which the longtime Nittany Lion football program icon was convicted of serially molesting boys on campus and at other sites around State College.The court, in a majority opinion written by Judge Anne Covey, held that the door to the larger review was opened by arguments raised over Corman's suit seeking immediate enforcement of the law keeping all fine proceeds in Pennsylvania.In its response the NCAA - which had challenged the constitutionality of the law governing the fine proceeds - also argued that it was within its rights to negotiate the punishments against Penn State.Covey said Wednesday that before the law can be enforced, those disputedissuesthat were now before the court must be explored."High school athletes who had no involvement in the criminal acts were prevented from obtaining a free college education," Covey wrote, explaining why she felt the larger issue merits further review.
"Student-athletes, trainers, coaches and support personnel who were taught and trained to be and do their best were stopped from competing by the prohibition against post-season play.
"Student-athletes, trainers, coaches, administrators and support personnel who had excelled in their jobs through hard work, practice, commitment, team work, sportsmanship, excellence and perseverance were told none of that mattered."
The court did not specifically rule on the validity of the consent decree in the opinion released today, but it did order Penn State - as the other party to the NCAA's contract - to be joined to the case as it continues to review the matter.
The case would then likely head to a discovery phase, Corman's attorney Matt Haverstick said, where both sides are entitled to explore evidence that led to the consent decree's creation and acceptance by Penn State.
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