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Gov. Corbett's move all about politics

JUST DROP IT
Challenging the NCAA is a good thing, but not Tom Corbett's way.
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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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It is so fun seeing people with too much power getting their comeuppance.

Roger Goodell, David Stern, the entire NCAA.

They all have a God complex and always seem to get their way.

So New Orleans Saints players challenged Goodell and won out. And now, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is suing the NCAA, saying it overstepped its bounds in punishing Penn State for the crimes of Jerry Sandusky.

Believe me, I love it when the NCAA is called out. But this time, the big fraud isn’t the NCAA, it’s Corbett. This is one grotesque, maybe even monstrous, play of political grandstanding.

This isn’t the time to stomp up and down, demanding that Penn State was wronged when one of its beloved, longtime coaches was using his own charity as a harem so that he could rape young boys. Also, its head coach was not doing all he could to stop it. That’s the nice way of putting the word “enabling.”

Sure, plenty of Penn State fans are unhappy, and they feel their program was unfairly punished over the Freeh Report’s seeming lack of thoroughness. They also correctly have suspicions about the NCAA, and see — also correctly — Corbett as the guy who was a big part of pushing Joe Paterno out. That wasn’t until after Corbett had been accused of being soft on Penn State and Sandusky while trying to raise money for his campaign to become governor.

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Yes, Corbett has a history with this Sandusky case, and it always has seemed to be about scoring political points. That doesn’t mean he never cared about the abused boys. It just means that other things keep factoring in.

Now, he appears to be making this move to get the votes of those angry fans.

Do we really need to live through all of this again with Penn State? Is it really worth dragging those abused boys back into the spotlight to keep a governor’s popularity and future strong?

Just drop it. That’s not even to say that he’s wrong. Surely, the NCAA has way too much power and control. Legally, who knows how this will come out? The laws are whatever lawyers and judges say they are.

But whether Corbett is right or wrong, this just looks bad. Cold. Penn State accepted its penalties, and now it needs to just serve its time and try to start rebuilding its name.

Corbett has swung to extremes over the years on this Sandusky case. Earlier this year, The Nation reported on Corbett’s history with the Sandusky case: In 2009, he was the state’s attorney general, heading the investigation.

“In addition,” The Nation wrote, “when Corbett was sworn in as governor in 2011, he still had not informed The Second Mile foundation (Sandusky’s charity) that its founder was under investigation. Instead, as a candidate for governor, he took $650,000 in donations from members of the Second Mile’s unsuspecting board, even allowing the chairman to hold a fundraiser for his campaign.”

In July, the NCAA, cutting a few corners off its usual process, hit Penn State hard. The team was given a four-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships for four years and a $60 million fine.

Recruiting is going to suffer over the years, not only from the reductions, but also from the lack of appeal for a team that isn’t going to play in bowl games. Penn State football will suffer, as will ticket sales.

But that isn’t a good enough reason to start up this fight.

Corbett is filing a federal antitrust suit, saying the NCAA doesn’t have the authority to do what it did, and that Sandusky’s case was a legal matter, not a matter of NCAA rules.

Actually, it was a moral issue.

But with this suit, and with the challenges to Goodell, we might be getting into a new area, looking into whether a league or a commissioner can overstep its bounds. If courts can rule that a league doesn’t have jurisdiction and can’t mete out justice, that could become a real mess.

It’s an interesting argument, and one that we probably should have. But this isn’t the time, or the test case, for it.

Sorry, but this time, the NCAA did the right thing, whether it was legally right or not. A Penn State coach acted monstrously, and Penn State officials didn’t do enough.

So Penn State absolutely needed to be held accountable. And in the NCAA’s business, the business of college sports, public trust was in serious jeopardy.

The NCAA needed to act quickly — and strongly.

Did it act legally? The lawyers will decide that. But no matter how it comes out, Corbett always will be able to tell people angry with Penn State that he was the power behind punishing Paterno. And for those who were angry about the punishment of Paterno? Corbett will say he was the one who sued the NCAA over it.

Yes, someone needs his comeuppance.

Tagged: Penn State

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