From an editorial Friday in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The politically charged decision by Gov. Tom Corbett to mount a late, rearguard legal attack over collegiate sports harsh punishment of Pennsylvania State University seems unlikely to help the university or the state as a whole move beyond the schools scandalous sheltering of convicted sexual predator Jerry Sandusky.
The antitrust suit Corbett filed Wednesday which challenges the National Collegiate Athletic Associations $60 million university fine, four-year postseason football ban, cuts to athletic scholarships, and other penalties sends the wrong message. It leaves the impression, however unfairly, that Nittany Nation still doesnt get it.
The governor is right to hail university officials apparent resolve to assure that tragedies like this never happen again. Sandusky, effectively, was jailed for life for sexually assaulting 10 boys. But Corbetts unilateral intervention threatens to undercut Penn States efforts to make amends.
Penn State officials, fortunately, say theyre not a party to the lawsuit, nor will they alter plans to comply with the NCAA penalties. Thats the far better course.
Meanwhile, Corbetts fighting to scuttle the sanctions cannot be read outside the confines of Happy Valley as anything other than whining. Along with the scathing criticism of Penn State officials actions in a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, the NCAA sanctions offer the best hope that Penn State and other universities will grasp the high price to be paid for putting an institutions reputation above a childs safety.
Moreover, the full dimensions of the scandal arent even clear at this point. Former Penn State President Graham B. Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Vice President Gary Schultz have yet to face trial for child endangerment and other criminal counts in the alleged cover-up.
In filing his lawsuit before Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane takes office this month, Corbett also opens himself up to accusations that hes trying to divert attention from his own role in an earlier state investigation of Sandusky, when Corbett was Pennsylvanias top prosecutor.
Kane ran on a pledge to investigate why it took prosecutors nearly three years to expose Sandusky. That inquiry deserves a full airing, inasmuch as the Sandusky indictment and firing of his mentor football coaching icon Joe Paterno came only after Corbett was elected governor.
Even if the NCAAs treatment of Penn State was different than in other cases where sanctions resulted from violating specific athletic or academic rules Corbetts wrongheaded lawsuit flies in the face of the fact that university officials, including the governor in his capacity as a Penn State trustee, agreed to take the NCAAs harsh medicine. Now, months later, does he expect everyone to forget that?
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