The state of Pennsylvania and the NCAA have been at odds over how to distribute the funding provided by fine payments by Penn State related to NCAA sanctions. That battle could be heading to the courts, according to multiple reports this week.
On Tuesday Sports Illustrated reported the state is preparing to file a lawsuit against the NCAA but the primary intent of the lawsuit is not yet known. An announcement could come as early as Wednesday but Sports Illustrated reports the lawsuit was not requested by Penn State. Penn State is not directly involved in the lawsuit, according to the report.
It is likely the lawsuit will focus on how the funds raised from Penn State's fine payments will be distributed, as the state and NCAA have been debating how much of the funds should be used for local and national child abuse prevention. The NCAA fined Penn State a total of $60 million to be deposited in to an account to be used to fund child abuse prevention in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and details reported in the Freeh Report that investigated Penn State's response and actions in the Sandusky scandal.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday the battle between Pennsylvania and the NCAA may have been coming to this legal standoff. United States Representative Charlie Dent (R Lehigh) has openly questioned NCAA President Mark Emmert’s response to Penn State and has strongly suggested the funds raised by Penn State should remain in the state because all of the victims of Sandusky were residents of Pennsylvania.
"The victims of Sandusky's crimes were all Pennsylvania residents and his crimes occurred within the commonwealth," Dent said in an interview Friday. "That's a strong argument for keeping the money here.”
According to details revealed in the Sandusky trial and the grand jury presentment released before, not all of the crimes took place in the state though. At least one victim of Sandusky was abused across state lines, in Texas, during a bowl trip Penn State made for the Alamo Bowl when Sandusky was a member of Penn State’s football coaching staff.
It may not be likely the state challenges other portions of the NCAA sanctions on Penn State. In addition to the massive fine, Penn State was placed on four years of postseason probation and received a cut in available football scholarships for four years. Penn State completed their first year without postseason play under the sanctions and will soon be completing the first year of reduced scholarships (National Signing Day is in February).
One of the concerns with the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State was the impact it would have on the community and economy in State College, a town that is driven by football off the field on game days with shops, restaurants and bars and more. Penn State saw attendance drop this season. Just one game in the 2012 season saw a crowd of over 100,000 fans. As the probation continues some wonder if that trend will continue and possibly hurt the local economy as well. The state could use that stance to challenge the NCAA's sanction length in court, but this may be nothing more than wishful thinking for some. Only time will tell.
The NCAA and the state of Pennsylvania have not commented on this story and are not expected to release any statement until after a lawsuit is filed.
Penn State recently made the first of five payments toward the $60 million fine, paying off the first $12 million installment.