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NCAA asks PA court to declare endowment act unconstitutional

The NCAA submitted court documents Wednesday stating that a state law related to Penn State University's consent decree with the NCAA violates both the Pennsylvania Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

In a brief filed with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the NCAA asks that the Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act be declared unconstitutional. This recent Pennsylvania law mandates the fine contained in the July 2012 Consent Decree between Penn State University and the NCAA must be paid to the Pennsylvania Treasury.

The NCAA says the law is unconstitutional because it was purposefully crafted to apply only to the Consent Decree.

"The Endowment Act is exactly the kind of discriminatory ‘special legislation’ the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “For this reason, as well as for numerous other reasons we have previously presented to the Court, we believe the Endowment Act violates the state Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. We will continue to fight what we believe is an unconstitutional law and an attempt to thwart the NCAA’s efforts to provide assistance to as many victims of child sexual abuse across the nation as possible."

Pennsylvania State Sen. Jake Corman, who introduced the legislation, on numerous occasions stated the purpose of the law was to direct the $60 million fine assessed on Penn State University to child sexual abuse prevention programs within Pennsylvania.

In addition, the extremely narrow conditions contained in the law mean that the legislation will only apply to the Consent Decree in this case. The NCAA argues that the law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution, which prohibits “special” laws designed to impact only one situation.

The NCAA also asked the state court to find that the Endowment Act violates the Pennsylvania Constitution and the federal Equal Protection Clause because the classifications created by the act are not rationally related to any valid state purpose or interest.

Although the plaintiffs contend that the Endowment Act prevents universities from giving away state appropriations, the NCAA argued that the specific provisions included in the Act—which mirror the conditions of the Consent Decree—do not further that purpose.

Penn State has publicly stated it will not use state funds to pay any of the $60 million monetary penalty, which is the equivalent of one year’s football revenue at the university.