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Corbett Rivals Knock NCAA Suit

Bruce Castor
Bruce Castor

It didn’t take long for critics to blast Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to sue the NCAA over its sanctions of Penn State. Democrat John Hanger, who announced his Guv bid in December, and Republican Bruce Castor, the Montgomery County Commissioner flirting with a primary challenge, both slammed Corbett.

Each criticized the Governor for changing his stance toward the sanctions, which he initially accepted.

“It’s curious, to say the least, that the Governor in July 2012 said the NCAA sanctions should be accepted. But now on January 2nd 2013, he sues the NCAA over the same sanctions he said to accept six months ago,” Hanger said.

In July, Corbett said, “Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

Corbett said he changed his position after looking into the argument that the NCAA doesn’t have the authority to levy sanctions over what was a criminal rather than an athletic matter. Additionally, he said, it was clear that PSU was strong-armed into accepting the sanctions with the threat of the ‘death penalty’ for the football program.

Penn State is taking no part in the suit.

Update: Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley rejected the criticism.

“The lawsuit is about fighting for the people of Pennsylvania. If others want to play politics, that’s up to them,” he said.

Hanger also knocked the Guv over his proposed budgets which reduced state funds to PSU.

Both Hanger and Castor criticized the Governor for proceeding with the suit without consulting Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who will be sworn in on January 15.

“The delay in acting in the first instance, and the rush to get in under the wire before an elected, independent Attorney General takes office in the second, smacks of political gamesmanship and ‘too little too late,’” Castor said.

Hanger served as the Secretary of Environmental Protection during the Rendell administration. Castor previously served as Montgomery County District Attorney and ran unsuccessfully against Corbett during the 2004 AG primary.

20 Responses

  1. {Explanation: What has not yet been posted is a compilation of the editorial comments which were published today across the state; coupled with that of the NY-Times, they unanimously condemn the NCAA-suit…and link it strongly to politics.}

    {Last week, Guzzardi and I discovered that a delay often transpires when multiple hyperlinks are provided, presumably to fact-check; this is why the reader will want to check-back on Monday to read the context that prompted these postings.}

    {I’m told that a petition-battle is brewing; someone may be preparing one in Chester County, where as many as ~400 signatures of GOP-members are projected to be available for a “statement” that would decry this litigation-filing and, meanwhile, in the interest of full-disclosure, to be supplied [] is the website @ which party-support for the NCAA-lawsuit may be conveyed.}

  2. Personal Comment:

    I have posted extensively during recent days because, apparently, “asking nicely” [of multiple individuals, in multiple settings, publicly and privately] during the past half-year hasn’t worked; I am NOT agitating [yet] for his displacement; rather, Corbett MUST divulge DETAILS regarding how he approached this issue ASAP…without becoming testy or evasive [as apparently transpired a few months ago].

    Although the press is usually D-oriented, some of the opinion-makers supra are R-oriented; thus, merely contrasting the somewhat combative letter from the GOP with the fact-laden editorials…is [sadly] enlightening.

    What also has some committee-people upset is how, during the past year, it has seemed that state-level decision-making has been flawed; this was most apparent when Rafferty was displaced by Freed…and Smith was ignored [even when he was in the audience, as I witnesssed @ the Lehigh Valley GOP-Luncheon!], to favor the factually-challenged $’ed-Welch.

    To whatever degree Gleason acquiesced to pressure from Corbett in having endorsed these decisions, I have been told personally that many state-level Committee-People were upset; thus, the choice of Gleason for re-election in a few weeks must be tethered to whether any residual discomfiture could/should be translated into [in Jeffrey Lurie’s words] the intent to “go in another direction.”

    Just like the mini-rebellion last week against Boehner yielded a pledge that he would respect the legislative-process [that he had promised to uphold when originally chosen for Speaker]…after which he won by only 3 votes, some sort of definitive party-level statement is now strongly indicated from the Gleason-Corbett party-wing.

  3. The following e-mail was received earlier today, from the Chair of the PA-GOP; presumably, it was sent to all Committee-People:


    “Governor Corbett has always been a fighter, and he has always fought for Pennsylvania.

    “Last Thursday, Governor Corbett filed a lawsuit against the NCAA to ensure that the citizens of Pennsylvania are not punished by the horrific and criminal actions of a few. Devastating Pennsylvania’s economy is not the answer, and Governor Corbett is fighting against NCAA sanctions that punish past, present and future students of Penn State University, the citizens of our commonwealth and our economy.

    “Will you sign our petition supporting Governor Corbett’s leadership to fight for Penn State and hardworking Pennsylvanians?

    “As our Commonwealth heals from a horrific scandal that rocked not only the Penn State community, but communities across Pennsylvania, it is important that we hold those responsible accountable. That’s why as our Attorney General, Tom Corbett worked tirelessly to put those who would do harm to our children and families behind bars. And that’s why we promoted him to Governor: to continue fighting for Pennsylvania.

    “He needs our support as he fights an overreaching NCAA that threatens to bankrupt the fragile economy that we are working so hard to rebuild. Join us and sign our petition supporting Governor Corbett as he fights for Pennsylvania.


    “Rob Gleason

    “PS: Sign our petition today and let’s support Governor Corbett’s efforts to fight for our families and our shared future.”

  4. Below is a montage of press coverage of Gov. Corbett’s debacle with the NCAA lawsuit. The “Tom [Corbett] and Jerry [Sandusky] Show” could become the proverbial nail in the coffin.

    Apparently, Corbett’s approval ratings were—prior to the NCAA lawsuit—the lowest in modern history for a governor in our Commonwealth. If he is the GOP nominee, the Democrats may take back the executive branch; concerned Republicans may not wish to sit-by and let that happen. Leadership means you don’t watch the ship go down just because you like the captain. Leadership is about accountability and having the courage and foresight to make adjustments — in this case, potentially to the Party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer.

    Patriot-News: Corbett’s lawsuit gambles taxpayers money
    It’s not often that Gov. Tom Corbett takes action that is described as daring or provocative.
    On Wednesday, the governor made a bold decision to sue the NCAA over its sanctions against Penn State. Unfortunately, it’s not the right decision.

    Patriot-News: NCAA Lawsuit makes bad situation worse
    It is hard to image a more disgusting political maneuver, one that the good people of the commonwealth should denounce by punting him out of office. Republicans should think ahead and primary him.

    Tribune-Review: Is Corbett’s flip-flop start of 2014 campaign?
    When a $3 million grant for The Second Mile came across his desk in July 2011, four months before Sandusky‘s arrest but three months after The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News first reported on the investigation, Corbett approved it.

    Post-Gazette: Late hit: Corbett’s suit against the NCAA is out of bounds
    Gov. Tom Corbett fumbled his first play of 2013 with a puzzling lawsuit challenging the NCAA for sanctions it imposed on Penn State University over the child sexual abuse scandal that sent former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky to prison. His complaint is belated, bizarre and self-serving.

    Delaware County Times: Corbett’s Penn State Folly: Suing Penn State will not save him
    In a nakedly obvious political calculation, Corbett has reversed himself on the penalties, and is now suing the NCAA for “overreaching and unlawful sanctions.”

    Philadephia Inquirer: Suit against NCAA is all about football and money
    On Wednesday, Gov. Corbett sued one of the few national organizations less popular than he is. Mind you, he sued the NCAA almost six months after unflinchingly accepting its tough censuring measures against Penn State as “corrective” in the wake of the Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.The governor said he changed his mind in late October but waited to file the federal lawsuit until now because – honestly, he said this with utter gravity – he “didn’t want to file during football season to take away from the team’s momentum.”
    He barely mentioned the victims. Once again, it’s all about football. And money.

    National Journal: Why is Pa.’s governor suing the NCAA?
    The decision likely has as much to do with the governor’s attempt to restore his standing with Pennsylvania voters ahead of his 2014 reelection bid as with the intricacies of sports law.
    In the wake of the scandal that roiled the university in 2011 and led to the dismissal of iconic head football coach Joe Paterno and the criminal conviction of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for child sexual abuse, Corbett, a Republican, was roundly lampooned by critics on all sides for his handling of the case.

  5. Skip ad hominem stuff. Proceeding parens patriae is almost laughable. Penn State is a big business quite able to take care of itself if it had a responsible Board and management. It is not a Commonwealth agency. Its faults remain the faults of its Board of Trustees among whom can be found a certain Governor. Pennsylvania is blessed with all sorts and grades of football. There is no proper interest in the Commonwealth in speaking up for vendors to tailgate parties at one of umpteen football venues when traffic never slowed down. ‘Tis an obvious if poorly thought out political ploy concerning which the incoming AG should continue as a professionalmto decline comment.
    On another hand, she might consider whether or not the AG’s cy pres duty commends suit against the PennState Trustees, President and NCAA with an eye to slapping a provisional constructive trust on the funds paid NCAA and a temporary injunction against further PSU payments pending litigation in full with a prayer that the Individual trustees who negligently permitted the Erickson cave-in be held liable to Penn State for any sums it ultimately is obligated to pay NCAA.

  6. They say there is truth in humor.
    From: Ask Mark Anything
    Beaver County Times By Mark Madden Special to The Times |


    True, I held off prosecuting Sandusky for three years. True, I have yet to fully investigate The Second Mile. True, the state’s lawsuit against the NCAA defines frivolity, transparently designed to placate the Penn State voting bloc while not having a hope in Hades of success. I ran off Joe Paterno, now pretend to defend his legacy. I said, “Remember the children,” but have now forgotten them. I am a bundle of hypocrisy, lies and contradictions. But at least I’m not Franco Harris.

    T. Corbett, Harrisburg

    Mark Madden replies: You lack a cardboard cutout. But you’re a lot more dangerous.

  7. As Attorney General, Tom Corbett received over $647,000 in campaign contributions from members of the Second Mile Foundation, while only assigning one investigator to the case.

    Meanwhile, at the same time, he assigned 14 investigators to Bill Deweese, who spent more than 5 years trying to get him.

    It is difficult to believe these campaign contributions did not improperly influence his decision to not file charges against Jerry Sandusky.

    The state police trooper who initially handled the Clinton County case against Jerry Sandusky believed there was enough evidence from a teenage boy — now known as Victim One– to charge Sandusky with indecent assault.

  8. Mr. Harley’s comments are laughable – this is a naked political ploy to try to grandstand to PSU fans, but we’re not that dumb. Something had to be done and even if I don’t agree with all of the sanctions they were still necessary and this flip-flop is blatant political pandering.

  9. The last thing we should worry about is the football fans…. Now I don’t think the kids who are currently playing for Penn State should be penalized, but something had to be done. Whenever coaches commit sanctionable acts, like recruiting violations, I always kept upset that the NCAA takes the punishment to the future players and not the coaches. However, Penn State didn’t commit run of the mill violations. Good people turned the other way while a monster was terriorizing children. Someone decided to exchange the innocence of children to protect a football program. The only thing that matters is through these sanctions, which Corbett had accepted, schools will see what happens when you place an atheletic program ahead of the safety of the community.

  10. JUST A THOUGHT FROM TODAY’S NY TIMES ARTICLE ABOUT JERRY TARKANIAN When the N.C.A.A. began investigating Long Beach State in 1973, Tarkanian had already left for U.N.L.V. Predictably, his family says, the investigators followed, beginning a battle that lasted decades and included meetings, affidavits, postseason tournament bans and a memorable visit to the Supreme Court. The court said that the N.C.A.A.’s treatment of Tarkanian was “constitutionally inadequate” but ruled against him because the N.C.A.A. was a private organization.

  11. Note this quote from yesterday’s Press Conference: “Mr. Corbett, who is facing re-election next year, said he since concluded the N.C.A.A. violated its own rules and sought to ‘pile on’ the university to counteract complaints that it was too often ‘soft’ in disciplining misbehavior.”

    Consider how switching the proper-nouns [and adjusting linked-pronouns accordingly] in this sentence conveys, potentially, a far more accurate message: “The NCAA, which is NOT facing re-election next year, said it since concluded the PENN STATE FOOTBALL CULTURE EMBODIED BY MR. CORBETT violated its own rules and sought to ‘pile on’ the NCAA to counteract complaints that it was too often ‘soft’ in disciplining misbehavior.”

    The “stop digging” metaphor increasingly morphs into the “glass house” simile.

  12. “ditto” NY-Times – LEAD EDITORIAL

    I do not ordinarily concur with this entity, but note how its message meshes with mine:

    Penn State: Lessons Not Learned
    Published: January 3, 2013

    If it were possible to compound the reasons for outrage over the serial child rape committed at Penn State, Gov. Tom Corbett took a brazenly misguided step in that direction Wednesday. The governor filed a federal lawsuit to force the N.C.A.A. to revoke the highly deserved sanctions imposed on the school and its powerful football program for a scandal that reached the highest levels of the university.

    Governor Corbett barely mentioned the young victims in complaining that the state’s economy, its citizens, students and, of course, the all-important Pennsylvania State University football fans were being unfairly penalized for the abuse and rape of children by Jerry Sandusky, the imprisoned former assistant coach who for years used the football program as a lure for his young victims.

    Surrounded by a claque of business leaders, students, politicians and athletes, Governor Corbett held a pep rally to announce the suit. He denounced the N.C.A.A. as unfairly crimping the lucrative football program — largely ignoring the core finding by a special inquiry last July that “the most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

    The inquiry found concern for the vaunted football program led to a long-running cover-up of Sandusky’s behavior by top university officials, including Joe Paterno, the disgraced football coach who died last January. The sanctions were agreed to in July by the university, which is not a party to the governor’s lawsuit. They included a $60 million fine, four years’ suspension from bowl game participation and the expunging of the university’s victory records during the Sandusky years. They were initially endorsed by Governor Corbett, a member of the Penn State board of trustees, as “part of the corrective process.” But Mr. Corbett, who is facing re-election next year, said he since concluded the N.C.A.A. violated its own rules and sought to “pile on” the university to counteract complaints that it was too often “soft” in disciplining misbehavior.

    In his foolhardy lawsuit, the governor bypassed incoming state attorney general Kathleen Kane to hire an outside law firm to pursue his case in the name of the state. Ms. Kane declined to comment, but in her election campaign last year she promised to look into why it took so long for the pedophilia scandal to be investigated when Mr. Corbett previously served as attorney general.

    In his complaints, the governor only confirmed the inquiry finding that the university’s obsession with football predominance helped drive the cover-up of Mr. Sandusky’s crimes. Mr. Corbett extolled football’s “economic engine” and bemoaned the “diminution in value of the Penn State educational and community experience” because it relied, he emphasized, “in part on the prominence of the Penn State football program.”

    It would be hard to imagine a more shortsighted misunderstanding of the scandal that continues to shake Penn State. The university is wise to accept the sanctions, whatever the governor hopes to accomplish. The penalties have caused considerable resentment among the more avid Penn State fans, but Mr. Corbett denied politics underlies his complaint. He pictured Penn State caught in the “eye of a media storm” and left to “clean up this tragedy that was created by the few.” The governor should know better than anyone that the tragedy is all about the outrageous abuse of children at Penn State, not continuing the business of football for Penn State fans.

  13. Illustrating hypocrisy in Corbett’s current posture is how what the NCAA wrote is congruent with what Corbett previously said.

    NCAA: “…[T]his forthcoming lawsuit…is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy – lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky[;] the innocence that was stolen can never be restored….”


    “From the speaker of a nearby telephone, a distinctive voice chimed in: ‘Remember the children. Remember that little boy in the shower.’ The voice belonged to Thomas W. Corbett Jr., the governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a member of the board of trustees. Corbett was participating in his first meeting, but he had the last word.”

    Again, Corbett must provide a detailed chronology of what transpired; I told this repeatedly to AG-candidate Freed [publicly/privately] last year, alas to no avail, and I emphasize the urgency thereof, ASAP.

  14. Bruce Castor, a real prosecutor, has made a very valid point, “too little, too late.” and so does the NCAA.

    Tom Corbett, Penn State trustee, was strangely silent when Penn State trustees and administrators were negotiating a settlement with the NCAA in July, six months ago for its role in harboring a serial child rapist and molester.

    Trustee Corbett was not so silent when he was pressing for the firing of Joe Pa, two games away from his own announced retirement.

    This obvious Hail Mary pass will only fool those who want to be fooled.

  15. One more point, illustrating the vacuousness that has, thus far, characterized Corbett’s defensiveness.

    “Corbett said he changed his position after looking into the argument that the NCAA doesn’t have the authority to levy sanctions over what was a criminal rather than an athletic matter.”

    This is the NCAA’s response:

    “We are disappointed by the Governor’s action today. Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy – lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky. While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward. Today’s announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University’s efforts.”

    Earlier, the NCAA had fleshed-out why it has claimed authority to act “pursuant to its authority under the NCAA constitution and Bylaw 4.1.2(e).”

    Finally, an exhaustive set of citations has been provided to supplement this claim:

    This illustrates why Corbett’s action yesterday was so very regretible.

  16. In light of what Castor has stated, it is possible that Corbett concocted this litigation-idea because his campaign thinks he is vulnerable in the 2014 General Election; his Insiders may fear he is fatally-flawed, increasingly being despised by the bipartisan, massive, influential Penn State network for having “killed JoePa” by abruptly firing him.

    Staring at “Rick Santorum Re-elect” polling numbers, they may be experiencing “primary fear”…namely, Castor’s potential to mount a viable challenge as the anti-Establishment, anti-Hack, anti-Union champion of The Forgotten Taxpayer [as this piece suggests is imminent, borrowing Guzzardi’s terminology].

    As per Guzzardi’s comments elsewhere, as Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer, some claim he did not want to jeopardize receiving campaign contributions from big donors [and powerful trustees] at both Penn State and Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation.

    Meanwhile, Corbett seems to have burdened the Commonwealth’s Forgotten Taxpayers with additional debt of more than $4.6 billion, and he has failed to promote key initiatives promised to the principled-grassroots: Right-to-Work, School-Choice, and LCB-privatization.

    There is nothing in the postings on the prior page that is otherwise relevant, for Corbett has upheld his campaign-promise to avoid imposing new taxes; nevertheless, the aforementioned concerns MUST be addressed internally by the GOP [as previously noted, STARTING with providing a tick-tock that explains how he handled Sandusky] for, surely, the Ds will invoke them to claim such “grandstanding” will not suffice if he wishes to earn a reprieve from the voters.


    [This is what I wrote earlier today, perhaps anticipating this reaction-essay.]

    I am repulsed that Corbett recklessly recalled the horrific stench of the historic Penn State humiliation. The gravamen of his lawsuit is to force the NCAA to spend the entire $60 million Sandusky-fine in Pennsylvania. This is, arguably, an embarrassingly small-ball, publicity-stunt, prophylaxing against an upcoming KK-initiated internal-investigation of why he allegedly had assigned only one trooper to investigate these molestation-charges while he had been AG.

    The University agreed to accept the NCAA’s sanctions last July. Both are private corporations, and Big-Government should not interfere with or intervene in private matters between two private corporations. There is no legal justification for requiring a private corporation (legally, a “person” no different than a private individual) to spend monetary resources in Pennsylvania.

    Amazingly, he called the NCAA’s Draconian mandates “overreaching” and “unlawful,” even claiming the NCAA should not even have sanctioned Penn State, thereby abandoning its core-mission. Perhaps he forgot that these harsh measures had supplanted their widely-rumored alternative [the “Death Penalty”], dissolution of the entire football program. Perhaps he forgot that his having led the effort to fire JoePa [hours after he had announced his retirement, and weeks prior to his death from small-cell anaplastic lung cancer] occurred prior to any formal investigation.

    Indeed, this litigation constitutes a transparent ploy to distract attention from allegations of dereliction-of-duty in the Freeh Report by both Penn State’s aloof administrators [plus attorney Cynthia Baldwin, former PA-Supreme] and unctuous, untrustworthy trustees [unabashedly incurious throughout most of 2011]. There is a bipartisan, massive, influential Penn State network that recalls PSU’s JoePa leading a program [during our entire adult-lives] that consistently prioritized academics [and that Nixon unwisely besmirched in ’69]. Corbett must explain candidly why the worst-possible PR-outcome has apparently transpired seriatim under his aegis.

    {Disclaimers: I am a GOP-Committee-Person [for two decades] and met Corbett @ three campaign-related events during 2010 [March, September, October]; I am also a PSU-Graduate [’72, B.S.] who harbors mixed emotions regarding the fact that Eddie Robinson is now Division I’s winningest-coach.}


    ESPN story, vide supra [page 241, in particular]

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