Deal restores Penn State, Paterno wins

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Penn State will get back the 112 football wins that were vacated after the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case.

A settlement between the NCAA, Penn State University and state officials also restores coach Joe Paterno’s status as the winningest coach in major college football history with 409 victories.

The NCAA announced the deal Friday, and Penn State’s board of trustees approved the terms by a unanimous vote.

The agreement also keeps a $60 million fine for child abuse prevention programs in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord had sued the NCAA over the sanctions imposed on Penn State after Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was convicted of sexually abusing boys, including some on campus.

The lawsuit was filed to keep the $60 million in Pennsylvania, but it began to question whether the NCAA had the authority to sanction Penn State.

Internal emails released as part of the lawsuit last year showed the NCAA questioned whether it could act, and one official believed the university was “so embarrassed they will do anything.”

Corman and McCord also alleged the NCAA had regular and close involvement with the law firm of former FBI director Louis Freeh after it was retained by Penn State’s board of trustees to investigate the university’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky.

“This is a win,” Corman said in a statement. “The NCAA has surrendered. The agreement we have reached represents a complete victory in the issue at hand — the consent decree is voided, money will be dedicated to help victims of child abuse in Pennsylvania, and sworn testimony was given by key figures during depositions in the case.”

“This validates our position that the rush to judgment against the Penn State community was wrong, damaged uninvolved parties, and disregards our values of due process. As we progressed through the case, it was clear that the consent decree could not stand up to the legal challenge.”

“For three years, my community has been rocked by a rush to judgment that many were eager to capitalize upon,” Corman added. “Their actions sought to punish the university and our community, with no thought to the consequences of their lack of leadership. Due process and facts matter. Today’s actions cannot give back the damage done recklessly by the consent decree, but it does end it, repeals it, and puts due process back in its proper perspective and focus.”

As part of the proposed settlement, Penn State acknowledges the NCAA’s “legitimate and good faith interest and concern” regarding the Sandusky matter.

The NCAA added that it will “aggressively defend the Paterno estate’s challenge to the validity of the now-replaced consent decree.

In a statement, the Paterno family called the settlement “a great victory for everyone who has fought for the truth.”

“The repeal of the consent decree and the return of the wins to the university and Joe Paterno confirm that the NCAA and the Board of Trustees acted prematurely and irresponsibly in the unprecedented sanctions the NCAA imposed on the university, the players, coaches and the community,” the family said.

“Through our pending litigation, we intend to continue the job of uncovering the full truth in this case,” the statement concluded.

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