NCAA Requests That Paterno Estate's Lawsuit Be Dismissed

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23: NCAA president Mark Emmert (L) speaks as Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State president looks on, during a press conference at the NCAA's headquarters to announce sanctions against Penn State University's football program on July 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sanctions are a result of a report that the university concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Almost two months after the Paterno Estate filed suit on the NCAA, seeking to overturn the historic sanctions levied on the school following the Freeh Report, the NCAA has formally asked courts to dismiss the case.


The NCAA, along with President Mark Emmert and Oregon State president and former NCAA Executive Committee chair Ed Ray, have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the estate of Joe Paterno and others due to a lack of legal standing, a failure to add necessary defendants, and various significant legal deficiencies.

While the plaintiffs may be unhappy with the conclusions and university’s acceptance of the Freeh Report, the plaintiffs in this case were not sanctioned by the NCAA and have no legal basis to sue the Association.

The Paterno Estate revealed its intent to file suit in late May. Joe Paterno's family—including son/former assistant coach Jay Paterno—university trustees, former players and others connected to Penn State University are among the plaintiffs. They claim the NCAA acted on flawed information from former FBI investigator Louis Freeh. 

"This case is further proof that the NCAA has lost all sense of its mission," said family attorney Wick Sollers, according to the Associated Press. "If there was ever a situation that demanded meticulous review and a careful adherence to NCAA rules and guidelines, this was it."

But the defendants oppose that belief strongly. Per the report, NCAA president Mark Emmert and his legal team identified three factual and legal flaws in the Paterno Estate's lawsuit:

  • "Their suit complains primarily about the conclusions of the Freeh Report, conducted at the behest of the Penn State Board, and the university’s acceptance of its findings."
  • "The NCAA did not commission the Freeh Report nor had any role in it."
  • "The court cannot consider the case because Penn State is a necessary defendant under Pennsylvania law and the plaintiffs in this case lack the standing to sue because they were not sanctioned by the NCAA."

This request for dismissal comes soon after the NCAA scored another win in the post-Sandusky legal fallout. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett sued the NCAA over its sanctions previously, but a federal judge dismissed that case in early June.

Corbett's suit was predicated on anti-trust law, but U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Yvette Kane declared he "does not make a case to attack the NCAA's sanctions" on those grounds.

The NCAA's request to throw out the Paterno Estate's suit comes on the same day released an Outside the Lines interview with Mark Emmert. In that piece, Emmert admitted the Penn State sanctions might eventually be revisited, leaving that decision to the discretion of his executive committee.

But after asking for the court to drop another lawsuit, it's clear the NCAA wants that review to be in their own hands—not the United States legal system's.


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