The National Collegiate Athletic Association asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by Joe Paterno’s family challenging penalties levied against Pennsylvania State University and its football program over the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal.
The family seeks to void a consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA, an action that might expose the university to a “prolonged investigation” and potentially “harsher sanctions than it had contracted to avoid,” the NCAA said Tuesday in papers filed in state court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
The family of the deceased coach and five members of the school’s board of trustees sued in May, claiming the NCAA improperly interfered with and mishandled a criminal matter outside the scope of its authority.
The Paternos’ suit is one of two against the college sports governing body over the sanctions, which include a $60 million fine to be paid in five installments. A third complaint filed by Governor Tom Corbett was dismissed in June.
The NCAA argued that the Paternos lack standing to assert claims against the university because they failed to establish a direct and immediate injury from the consent decree. They’re also not parties to Penn State’s membership agreement with the NCAA or third-party beneficiaries of that agreement, according to the filing.
A defamation claim by the family also holds no weight because none of the alleged defamatory statements mention any of the plaintiffs or “could reasonably be interpreted as referring to them,” according to the filing.
The case is Estate of Joseph Paterno v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2013-2082, Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Pennsylvania (Bellefonte).
–Editors: Charles Carter, Fred Strasser
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