Lawmakers OK bill to keep Penn State fines in Pa.
HARRISBURG – A bill designed to ensure that only Pennsylvania benefits from a $60 million fine that the NCAA levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal was on its way Wednesday to Gov. Tom Corbett.
The House voted 194-2 to join the Senate in approving the measure, and Corbett’s spokesman said the governor will sign it.
“This is good policy and has received great support statewide,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican whose district includes Penn State’s main campus in State College. “I am glad we were able to get this done and look forward to the positive impact that will come out of the fine here in Pennsylvania.”
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence after his conviction on charges of sexually abusing 10 boys over several years, both on and off campus. He maintains his innocence.
Penn State agreed to the fine last summer, as well as other sanctions that included a four-year ban on bowl games, as part of a deal that averted a potential shutdown of its football program by college sports’ governing body. Penn State has already paid the first of five $12 million installments.
The bill would require that fines of $10 million or more imposed on Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning be deposited into a state-administered account, and be spent on in-state programs that address the sexual abuse of children.
An NCAA spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. The group said in January that it was researching whether the legislation might violate state and federal constitutions.
In a separate matter, the NCAA has asked a federal judge in Harrisburg to throw out an antitrust lawsuit that Corbett filed in January. The suit contends that the NCAA “piled on” when it imposed the sanctions, which it says harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes.
But the NCAA says Corbett lacks standing to sue and his lawsuit is an inappropriate attempt to drag the federal courts into “an intrastate political dispute.”
The case could define how far the NCAA’s authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed it broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics.
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