Paterno Family Adds Penn State as Defendant in NCAA Suit

Joe Paterno’s family filed an amended complaint in its case over penalties levied against Penn State University’s football program after the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal and named the school as a defendant.

The move follows a state court judge’s ruling in January barring the family from pursuing breach-of-contract claims over the sanctions by the National Collegiate Athletic Association without the university’s permission or involvement.

“We do not seek any monetary damages from Penn State, nor do we ask that the court order Penn State to take any action,” Wick Sollers, an attorney for the Paternos, said in an e-mailed statement. “We ask only for a declaration that the plaintiffs have rights under the NCAA rules that were violated.”

The NCAA sanctions in July 2012 stripped the football team of 112 wins and levied a $60 million fine against the university for its failure to prevent the sexual abuse by Sandusky, a former football coach convicted of molesting boys for more than a decade.

The Paterno family, which sued along with four members of the school’s board of trustees in May 2013, is seeking to void the sanctions. Joe Paterno, who coached the football team for decades, died Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85.

Prison Sentence

Sandusky, 70, who spent 31 seasons as a defensive assistant under Paterno, was sentenced in October 2012 to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys. He is being held at a maximum security prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

The state’s investigation into Sandusky took almost three years before charges were filed in November 2011. The probe began under Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican who was attorney general in 2009 and was elected governor in 2010.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who began her elected term in January 2013, promised during her campaign to review the handling of Sandusky’s case. Kane said today that the year-old internal probe is ongoing.

Last year, Kane named former federal prosecutor H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. to lead the review. Retrieval of written records, particularly e-mails, have slowed the review process, Kane said in a statement. She didn’t give a timeframe for when the review will be completed or a public report on its findings issued.

The Paterno case is Estate of Joseph Paterno v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2013-2082, Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Pennsylvania (Bellefonte).

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