Paterno Family’s Lawsuit Against NCAA Goes Before Judge

The Paterno family’s lawsuit against the NCAA’s sanctions went before a judge on Tuesday. The lawsuit pertains to the sanctions against Penn State that were leveled after the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case.

Pennsylvania judge John Leete oversaw the hearing, which lasted about three hours and involved the NCAA asking for the suit to be dismissed. Leete did not issue a ruling on Tuesday, but explained in stead that he will issue a written opinion at a later time.

The NCAA argued that the case should be dismissed because the university already agree to the sanctions. It added that the suit doesn’t include the school among its plaintiffs, notes Mercury News.

However, the Paterno family’s lawsuit alleges that the NCAA didn’t follow its own rules in the sanctioning process, so its penalties should be dismissed. They added that late Penn State head coach Joe Paterno wasn’t aware of Sandusky’s abuse of children in Penn State’s facilities. The claim contradicts findings by investigator Louis Freeh in his well-known Freeh Report on the incident.

The sanctions were leveled against Penn State after Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June 2012. The NCAA later punished the school with a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine, and significant scholarship reductions. Penn State confirmed this week that it will pay out almost $60 million to settle the civil suits against it in the wake of the scandal.

The Paterno family’s lawsuit deals with several issues, including whether Penn State is an indispensable party to the lawsuit, notes CBS Sports. The plaintiffs in the case are Joe Paterno’s family, four university trustees, four faculty members, nine former players, and two former coaches. The group is claiming breach of contract, contract interference, defamation, civil conspiracy, and commercial disparagement.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Joseph Loveland, explained that his clients believe the sanctions to be “coercion and a cram-down of the highest order.” He added of the NCAA, “The truth of the matter is that they were acting completely in uncharted waters with nothing whatsoever to support them on it.”

Tuesday’s hearing dealt with the procedures the NCAA went through to determine penalties. Leete explained to the lawyers, “They cut a new path with this case, no question about it.”

It isn’t clear when Judge Freete will issue a ruling or opinion on the Paterno family’s lawsuit.