Today the that a Pennsylvania court dismiss the lawsuit brought by the estate of Joe Paterno and others. In response to arguments presented by the plaintiffs, the NCAA again identified numerous reasons that the plaintiffs’ strained and novel legal theories have no basis under Pennsylvania law.
In particular, the NCAA argues that the court does not have jurisdiction to proceed because the plaintiffs have not included Penn State in the suit, even though Penn State’s interests are at the heart of the plaintiffs’ allegations. The plaintiffs’ claims are rooted in their dissatisfaction with the investigation and findings of former FBI Director Louis Freeh—an investigation commissioned and accepted by the Penn State Board of Trustees. Yet, the plaintiffs have not sued Penn State or the investigation firm it hired -- instead, they sued the NCAA. The plaintiffs also have expressed their deep disagreement with Penn State’s decision to enter into a consent decree with the NCAA and want the court to strike down the consent decree. But the NCAA believes Pennsylvania law does not allow a court to take action affecting a contract without all parties to the contract present.
In addition, as the NCAA previously argued, none of the plaintiffs’ claims has legal merit. None of these plaintiffs was individually sanctioned. Courts have never recognized that persons not personally subject to sanctions – such as former players or faculty members -- have legal rights to enforce purported violations of the membership agreement between the NCAA and its member institutions. Finally, plaintiffs also have failed to meet the legal requirements for their defamation, commercial disparagement, and civil conspiracy claims. As stated in the NCAA memorandum, the plaintiffs' allegations fall short of what is required to maintain these claims in Pennsylvania state court.
For these reasons and others , the NCAA reaffirmed its request for the court to dismiss this litigation at this early stage of the proceedings.
Statement from NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy: “The plaintiffs’ filings in this case have confirmed their strong views about the Freeh Report and the consent decree. But those strong views do not create a legal basis to sue the NCAA or undo our agreement with Penn State.”