Governor sues NCAA over Penn State sex scandal

(Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett filed a lawsuit on Wednesday demanding that sanctions imposed on Penn State University over the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal be thrown out, saying they threatened to devastate the state's economy.

Corbett called the sanctions imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, which include an unprecedented $60 million fine, "overreaching and unlawful."

"I cannot and will not stand by and let it happen without a fight," the Republican governor, who was accused of dragging his feet on the Penn State scandal when he was state attorney general, told a news conference.

A lawsuit Corbett filed with U.S. District Court in Harrisburg called for all Sandusky-related sanctions imposed on Penn State to be thrown out.

Sandusky, Penn State's former defensive coordinator, was convicted in June of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, some in the football team's showers. The scandal implicated top university officials in a cover-up, including the late Joe Paterno, its longtime head football coach.

 The NCAA, the governing body of U.S. collegiate sports, fined Penn State $60 million for failing to stop abuse by Sandusky. It also voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons and banned its football team from bowl games for four years.

Corbett's suit charged the NCAA and "competing colleges and universities represented on its governing boards" had "cynically and hypocritically exploited" the case "to impose crippling and unprecedented sanctions on an already weakened competitor."

The suit said stigma from the case would diminish recruitment of students and student athletes and the value of a Penn State education for decades.

According to Corbett's office, Penn State football was the second most profitable collegiate athletic program in the United States in 2010-11, when it brought in $50 million, generating more than $5 million in tax revenue.

Corbett, who spoke at State College, where Penn State University is located, said the NCAA had overstepped its bounds and the case was "a criminal matter, not a violation of NCAA rules."

Penn State University released a statement saying it was not party to Corbett's lawsuit and reiterated its commitment to comply with the NCAA sanctions. The university recently made the first payment of $12 million of the fine to a national fund to support victims of child abuse.

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