HARRISBURG - Gov. Tom Corbett argued in a court document filed late Monday that the NCAA has been trying to use his antitrust lawsuit against it over the Penn State penalties in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal to combat what he describes as a groundswell of public criticism.
Corbett said the judge should not grant the NCAA's request to dismiss the case, saying college sports' governing body made a factual error when it said the penalties were voted on by the university's trustees.
Corbett, who as governor is a trustee, said the NCAA's motion to dismiss the lawsuit he filed in early January "appears to have been written more to advance the NCAA's broader agenda, and to combat the recent groundswell of public criticism against the embattled organization, than to raise legal issues appropriate to a motion to dismiss."
NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter offered no immediate comment on the latest filing.
The Republican governor's lawsuit asks the judge to throw out all the penalties, including a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and the loss of football scholarships. He claims the consent agreement has harmed students, business owners and others.
"The NCAA wrongly claims that its arbitrary decimation of the PSU football program is no different than its enforcement of rules regulating player eligibility or uniforms - which do enhance collegiate competition - although PSU was not found to have violated a single NCAA rule and the NCAA's own president insisted that the consent decree was not an enforcement action," Corbett's lawyers wrote.
The NCAA has said the penalties are unrelated to regulation of economic activity so antitrust law doesn't apply.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator at the college football powerhouse, was convicted last summer of sexually abusing several boys, some on campus. He is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence. He is appealing and maintains his innocence.
The consent agreement between the NCAA and Penn State was signed a few weeks after Sandusky was found guilty of 45 criminal counts. Penn State is not a party to Corbett's antitrust lawsuit or to the NCAA's lawsuit filed last week against Corbett and three state officials over a newly enacted state law that is designed to keep the $60 million within the state.