BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania – The family of the late Joe Paterno filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn sanctions against Penn State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.
Several members of the Penn State Board of Trustees plus teachers, former players and coaches were among those who joined the family’s 40-page lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Former Penn State assistant American football coach Sandusky was found guilty last June on 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a 15-year period. He was sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison last October.
The scandal that erupted in November of 2011 when Sandusky was arrested led to the firing of Penn State gridiron coach Paterno, tarnishing his once-iconic legacy with claims he did not do enough to stop Sandusky once notified about an incident of child abuse.
Paterno, once among the most successful coaches in collegiate gridiron history, died in January of 2012 from lung cancer at age 85.
Following Sandusky’s conviction was last July’s release of a report on the scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh, a report the NCAA used as the basis to issue sanctions against Penn State rather than conduct its own probe.
The NCAA issued a four-year ban on lucrative bowl games, put Penn State on probation for five years and vacated every Penn State victory since 1998.
The lawsuit claims the NCAA, NCAA president Mark Emmert and former NCAA executive committee chairman Edward Ray acted in violation of the group’s own rules based upon a report, by Freeh, that was inaccurate and incomplete.
The lawsuit accused the NCAA, Emmert and Ray of civil conspiracy, breach of contract, defamation and commercial disparagement. It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the NCAA for improper conduct and breach of contract.