To many, it seemed like someone was finally defending Penn State.
Six months after Penn State President Rodney Erickson — who feared the NCAA would shut down the university’s football program — accepted crippling sanctions, Gov. Tom Corbett gave students hope that someone was looking out for them.
Corbett announced Wednesday that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will file a federal lawsuit against the NCAA to have all of Penn State’s sanctions, including a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions, 112 vacated wins and four-year bowl game ban, lifted.
Suddenly, hope for the future was restored and Corbett was Penn State’s hero — or so he wants us to think.
Underclassmen might get to travel to watch Penn State play in a bowl game next winter. Next year’s senior class might get to play on the field together in December.
While it would be nice to see Penn State players heading to Pasadena or Miami Gardens next January for a postseason match, it is with clouded judgment that anyone would tout Corbett as the white knight of Penn State.
He does not have the track record to back up the title of hero he has been given.
Last February, Corbett proposed a 30 percent cut to Penn State’s funding, which would have meant students paying more money for tuition and significant hardship for the university as a whole.
And yet, less than one year later, Corbett stood on Penn State’s campus on Wednesday in front of dozens of reporters and called Penn State one of the greatest learning institutions in the world.
Why not spend the last few months of time and taxpayer dollars focused on making sure this great learning institution does not receive serious appropriation cuts like the one that was proposed last year? His attention should be on making sure the state’s university remains affordable, not sanctions that Erickson signed a consent decree to accept.
It’s hard to put trust in Corbett’s future decisions after he completely changed his stance on the sanctions on July 23, about the path forward for Penn State, originally saying in a statement “part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties.”
So when Erickson did accept the sanctions, it would make sense that Corbett would support the decision. His lawsuit against the NCAA contradicted his advice to Penn State, which was to accept the sanctions.
Incredibly, Corbett did not find it necessary to consult with elected Attorney General Kathleen Kane about suing the NCAA on behalf of the state until after he filed the lawsuit. She should have been consulted in addition to outgoing Attorney General Linda Kelly.
Even with these sanctions, the team had an impressive 8-4 record, filled Beaver Stadium with fans each Saturday and brought revenue into local businesses.
So why, when the community was moving on, would Corbett reopen old wounds?
Critics of the sanctions point out that Penn State did not violate any NCAA rules and that the NCAA did not conduct its own investigation before handing down the sanctions this summer.
Of course, this lawsuit could spark discussion about the NCAA needing to be held accountable.
The NCAA has rules and procedures and should not be able to exert endless power.Whether it was Corbett’s place to lead the crusade against the NCAA is another question entirely.