HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania's attorney general said she granted Gov. Tom Corbett the authority to file a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA because the litigation could present a conflict of interest as her office prosecutes three Penn State administrators.
Attorney General Linda Kelly told The Associated Press on Thursday that an actual conflict of interest could, and likely would, arise if this office were involved in both cases.
Her office is prosecuting Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley on charges of endangering the welfare of children, obstruction, conspiracy, failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury. Prosecutors claim they illegally covered up complaints and suspicions about Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator who was convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including attacks inside campus facilities.
Corbett sued the NCAA in federal court on Wednesday, saying a set of penalties imposed against Penn State over its handling of the matter should be thrown out on antitrust grounds. The school agreed to a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on post-season play, a reduction in scholarships and the elimination of more than 100 wins under former coach Joe Paterno.
The size and scope of the criminal case made it untenable for the attorney general's office to sue the NCAA, Kelly said.
The NCAA has called Corbett's lawsuit meritless and an affront to the victims of Sandusky, who is now serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence for abuse of 10 boys over 15 years.
Spanier, forced out as president last year after Sandusky's arrest, remains a faculty member but is on paid leave. Curley is serving out the last year of his contract as athletic director, also on leave. Schultz, the school's vice president for business and finance, has retired.
All three have said they are innocent.
Under state law, the attorney general pursues and defends lawsuits involving most state agencies, but can delegate that power for reasons of efficiency or if it is otherwise deemed to be in the best interests of the state.