Corman: PSU fines on hold

HARRISBURG – State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, announced Thursday that the NCAA has agreed to not “disperse or otherwise dissipate” any of the $12 million in fine money already paid by Penn State university to the NCAA while negotiations continue on the over-riding lawsuit filed by Corman, but the collegiate sports governing body said no negotiations are happening.

On Wednesday, Commonwealth Court Judge Keith Quigley put on hold Corman’s request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the NCAA from releasing any of the money the university has already paid. Corman asked for the injunction request to be put on hold indicating the filing had the support of the NCAA.

Corman also filed a lawsuit earlier this month asking the court to enjoin the NCAA or their endowment from releasing the $60 million fine to organizations outside of Pennsylvania.

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams told the Associated Press that the organization has not been negotiating with Corman, either about spending the $12 million or the larger lawsuit, and called his lawsuit groundless.

“We believe the senator’s lawsuit is without basis, and we intend to proceed with the litigation,” Williams said. “As we’ve explained to the senator’s lawyers in our discussions, no funds will be disbursed until a third party administrator is appointed, and until that time the funds are held in an independent account not controlled by the NCAA.”

Corman’s request to put his initial injunction request on hold said the NCAA informed him “that for multiple reasons it has no intention to disburse or otherwise dissipate said funds in the immediate future,” and agreed to give Corman two months’ notice if that changes.

At a convention in Grapevine, Texas, NCAA president Mark Emmert disputed Corman’s statement that the NCAA has been negotiating over the lawsuit and said his organization will never see the money or decide where it is spent.

“A group of presidents and others are setting up the framework by which all that will happen,” Emmert said. “As they set that up and get it all in place, then indeed that group can make a decision to dispense money.”

Also Wednesday, Corman introduced a narrowly-focused bill, the Institution of Higher Education Consent Decree Endowment Act, which would determine how matters such as Penn State’s are handled. Corman’s office said he believes it would also apply to the NCAA-Penn State consent agreement.

“I believe the fine money, which is coming from Pennsylvania residents, should stay in Pennsylvania and benefit our organizations and children,” Corman said in a press release. “Every dollar will continue to go to worthy and valuable child abuse prevention and educational organizations, except this way, the connection between Pennsylvania resident funds and Pennsylvania benefits will be clear.

“The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection recently issued a comprehensive report which points to many worthwhile organizational avenues in our commonwealth that could benefit greatly from the distribution of the fine. I believe keeping the money in Pennsylvania is not only appropriate, but also will significantly help the state achieve the goals and preparedness the task force spells out.”

The act’s primary provision is that fine money must go into a custodial trust in the state treasury, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency would distribute the money in the state for child sexual abuse prevention or to help victims.

Corman serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is a Penn State alumnus and represents the State College area as part of the 34th Senatorial District.

The university was fined $60 million over five years as part of agreed-to NCAA sanctions resulting from the school’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The school also lost some scholarships for four years and served the first year of a four-year bowl ban this season.

Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse and sentenced to at least 30 years in state prison. He maintains his innocence and is appealing his conviction.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.