State of Pennsylvania vs NCAA Document

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

 

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,

THOMAS W. CORBETT, JR., GOVERNOR,

Plaintiff

v.

Civil Action No.

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC

ASSOCIATION,

Defendant

 

COMPLAINT

 

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (“Commonwealth”), by Governor

Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., brings this action as

parens patriae for the natural citizens of

the Commonwealth for injunctive relief against the National Collegiate Athletic

Association (“NCAA”) under Section 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 26, for a

violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.

 

I. NATURE OF ACTION

 

1. For more than 40 years, the football program at Pennsylvania State

University (“Penn State”) has been an importnat economic engine supporting

Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth. On fall weekends, fans and alumni have

regularly traveled to State College to attend Penn State games, tailgate with family

and friends, and spend the weekend visiting the Penn State campus. As a result, Penn

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State football has played a major role not only as a focus of campus life, but as a

generator of revenue for a proud university, a leading tourist attraction, and a creator

of jobs in the Commonwealth.

2. This suit arises out of the NCAA and its member institutions’

arbitrary and capricious application of their enforcement power for the purpose of

crippling Penn State football, thereby harming citizens of the Commonwealth who

benefit from a successful football program at Penn State, among them citizens who

earn income by working in the stadium on game days; the shop owners whose small

businesses generate significant revenue from the sale of Penn State memorabilia; the

students who help pay tuition by waiting tables filled with alumni and fans who

patronize restaurants and bars before and after games; the hotel owners and

employees whose jobs depend on the continued influx of tourists to central

Pennsylvania; and the Penn State swimmers and other athletes whose programs are

largely funded by football revenue.

3. The NCAA is accomplishing this goal by exploiting, to bunrish its

own often deirded public reputation, a tragic and notorious child sexual abuse scandal

that became one of the most closely followed news stoires in the nation between

November 2011 and July 2012. Instead of allowing the justice system to resolve this

seires of events, the NCAA used Penn State’s tarnished public image as an

opportunity to force the university to endure harsh, unjustified, and unprecedented

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punishments. Penn State was forced to sign away its procedural rights, including an

investigation of the charges against it, factual findings that NCAA rules were

violated, a hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, and an appeal of

any adverse ruling. These punishments threaten to have a devastating, long-lasting,

and irreparable effect on the Commonwealth, its citizens, and its economy.

^ The NCAA is a trade association of competitors, formed for the

purpose of promoting intercollegiate athletic competition, in part through selfregulating

its members to ensure fair competition on the playing field and the

protection of participating student-athletes. While the antitrust laws permit such an

association to impose and enforce rules or standards to promote certain

procompetitive purposes, such rules must be reasonably related to those purposes,

and must be enforced through procedures designed to prevent their arbitrary

application.

5. The NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State fail to meet these

requirements. The NCAA has punished Penn State without citing a single concrete

NCAA rule that Penn State has broken, for conduct that in no way compromised the

NCAA’s mission of fair competition, and with a complete disregard for the NCAA’s

own enforcement procedures. In so doing, the NCAA and its members have forced

Penn State to forfeit the valuable competitive advantages of full participation in the

NCAA.

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^ While the Commonwealth emphatically repudiates the conduct of the

university officials who allegedly knew about the underlying offenses and failed to

report them to law enforcement authorities, the NCAA should not be permitted to

exploit the tragedy in a way that harms Pennsylvanians and decreases the revenue

base that supports worthy Commonwealth programs merely to enhance the NCAA’s

own reputation and the competing football programs of the NCAA member colleges

and universities.

7. The NCAA took the public position that its unique and unprecedented

actions were necessary to correct a “culture” at Penn State that improperly exalted the

football program to a position of “deference” and “reverence” within the university.

While the role of football and other high-profile spotrs on college campuses is

cetrainly a legitimate subject for debate, the notion that this phenomenon is in any

way unique to Penn State defies credulity. Moreover, given the NCAA’s pivotal role

in creating and profiting from the “culture” it now decries, its stated justification for

its attack on Penn State and the Commonwealth must be viewed as a pretext for the

real motives of the NCAA and its president: the opportunity to gain leverage in the

coutr of public opinion, boost the reputation and power of the NCAA’s president,

enhance the competitive position of certain NCAA members, and weaken a fellow

competitor.

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II. PARTIES

Plaintiff is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, acting by and

through its Govenror, Thomas W. Corbett, Jr. Under Pennsylvania law, the Attorney

General of the Commonwealth is authorized to bring actions on behalf of

Pennsylvania and its citizens for violations of the antitrust laws of the United States.

The Commonwealth Attonreys Act, however, permits the Govenror’s Office of

General Counsel to initiate such actions upon a delegation of that authority by the

Attorney General.

See 71 P.S. § 732-204(c). In accordance with the statute,

Governor Corbett sought and received such a delegation from the Attorney General.

^ Defendant NCAA is an unincorporated member association of more

than 1,000 colleges and universities located throughout the United States. The

NCAA maintains its headquarters and pirncipal place of business in Indianapolis,

Indiana. The majority of the NCAA’s members are institutions of higher education

(hereinatfer collectively referred to as “members” or “member institutions”).

Through agreements with its member colleges and universities, the NCAA regulates

and coordinates the business of college sports in the United States.

10. As described by the NCAA on its website, the NCAA was founded

m as a way to protect student-athletes” and “continues to implement that pirnciple with

increased emphasis on both athletics and academic excellence. ” According to the

website, “[t]he NCAA enforcement program stirves to maintain a level playing field

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for the more than 400,000 student-athletes. Commitment to fair play is a bedrock

principle of the NCAA A fundamental principle of the enforcement program is to

ensure that institutions abiding by NCAA legislation are not disadvantaged by

complying with the rules. ” In furtherance of these principles, the NCAA regularly

investigates and sanctions collegiate athletic programs for violations of NCAA rules

designed to ensure fairness on the playing field. These rules include limitations on

financial compensation to student-athletes, limitations on communication between

athletic programs and high school recruits, limitations on team practices, and

requirements that student-athletes achieve minimum academic standards.

11. Given the growing popularity of college athletics, particularly football

and basketball, the NCAA has become one of the most powerful institutions in

American spotrs. It awards more than eighty championships annually in a variety of

men’s and women’s collegiate spotrs, including the “March Madness” men’s

basketball tournament that provides the NCAA with more than $500 million nanually

in television revenue alone. The NCAA is “big business” in the United States,

amassing nearly $846 million in annual revenue in 2010-11. (See

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Finances/Revenue).

12. Because of the NCAA’s role in intercollegiate athletics, operation of a

major college football program like Penn State’s requires a college or university to be

an NCAA member, and to subject itself to the NCAA’s myirad rules and regulations.

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III.

 

JURISDICTION & VENUE

13. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.

§ § 1331 and 1337.

14. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 22 and 28

U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims

occurred in this district and the defendant transacted business in this district.

15. This Court has personal jurisdiction over defendant because defendant

transacted business in this district, nad was engaged in an illegal scheme that was

directed at and had the intended effect of causing injury to persons and entities

residing in, located in, or doing business in this district.

IV. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. The Penn State Football Program

16. Division I college football is big business, generating hundreds of

millions of dollars of annual revenue, and Penn State has long been one of its most

successful and storied programs. Penn State football is irch in tradition, loyalty, and

on-field success, having won two national championships, three Big Ten Conference

titles, and invitations to 26 postseason bowl games during the last 40 years.

17. In 2010-2011, Penn State football was the second most profitable

collegiate athletics program in the nation, earning over $50 million, and was the most

profitable program amongst its immediate competitors in the Big Ten Conference.

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Penn State football was also the most valuable contributor to intercollegiate expenses

for all NCAA student-athletes at the university, providing 37 percent of the revenue

for athletic programs in the 2011 fiscal year. This revenue represents more than

twice the amount provided by the next most valuable source, donations from alumni

and friends of the university. Because the football program amounted to only 15

percent of athletics expenses, Penn State football funded other varsity programs,

scholarships and other academic services for student-athletes including counseling,

and similar operational expenses. In short, Penn State football has long been a

significant economic dirver of the university, playing an important role in enabling

the university to offer a variety of first-rate programs through resources other than

student tuition.

18. Moreover, Penn State achieved its football success without

compromising the academic performance of its football players. Penn State’s

football program perennially boasts one of the highest graduation rates among

Division I football programs. Up until the revelation of the sexual abuse scandal that

rocked the campus in November 2011, Penn State football’s reputation for “success

with honor” made it the envy of its peers.

19. The Penn State football program also generates substnatial revenue

for the Pennsylvania economy. Prior to the NCAA sanctions, it was estimated that

approximately 15 percent of visitors to Penn State football were from outside the

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Commonwealth, and that each out-of-state attendee to a Penn State football game

was accompanied on his or her trip to the Commonwealth by, on average, 1.5

additional visitors who did not attend the game. As a result, according to one study,

Penn State football generated $161.5 million in business volume impact in 2009,

with $90 million benefitting Centre County alone. The same study found that Penn

State football spent $16 million in Pennsylvania on goods and services with

contractors and vendors in 2009—essentially pumping money back into the

Pennsylvania economy during the downtunr.

20. The football program was found to create approximately 2,200 jobs

for hardworking Pennsylvanians both direct jobs, such as box office and

concessions staff, ushers, and parking attendants, and indirect jobs, ranging from

shopkeepers to restaurant staff to housekeepers at local hotels. The football program

also generates over $5 million in tax revenue and supports a number of community

programs run through and in conjunction with football and student-athletes.

21. Penn State football also has served as a centerpiece of campus life for

the 44,000 students who attend Penn State, and the program carries a strong public

association with a first-class state university that is a source of pirde throughout the

Commonwealth. The substantial levels of giving from alumni and firends of the

university are undoubtedly engendered in part through the strong connections

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between the university and its alumni that a legendary football program has continued

to foster.

 

U

 

 

NCAA Oversight of Collegiate Athletics

22. The NCAA regulates and coordinates the business of college sports in

the United States. Its purported mission is to regulate competition, protect the role of

student athletics in educational programs at member institutions, and ensure that

participants in intercollegiate athletics are treated as “student-athletes” whose

academic education takes precedence over athletics.

23. In practice, however, the NCAA’s primary function has been to

maximize the revenue generated for its member institutions, primarily through

college football and men’s basketball. Approximately 90 percent of the NCAA’s

revenue is derived from its television contract for the men’s basketball tounrament,

which the NCAA has successfully marketed as a major television event over three

weekends each spring. While the NCAA has outsourced its football postseason to

money-making bowl games and the Bowl Championship Seires, college football also

has become an enormous source of revenue for NCAA member institutions.

24. In recent years, the NCAA’s rules and enforcement decisions have

been a target of widespread and increasing media and public criticism. Because the

NCAA’s role in promoting college athletics arguably creates a disincentive to impose

punishments on the most lucrative football and men’s basketball programs, the

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NCAA’s inconsistent enforcement decisions have led to a popular perception that the

NCAA is more interested in creating the appearance of protecting “student-athletes”

than in actually doing so.

25. The NCAA enforces its regulations through procedures listed in a

Constitution and Bylaws (hereinafter, the “Manual”), which set forth the operational

structure of the Association, the rules governing member institutions, and procedural

mechanisms by which the NCAA regulates student-athletes and member institutions.

26. The NCAA’s leadership comprises representatives of competitor

universities and conferences. The Executive Committee is responsible for

administrative and policy tasks, including budget oversight, the conduct of litigation,

calling necessary meetings and conventions, and coordinating catastrophic and

disability insurance. The Division I Board of Directors, which govenrs “Division I”

institutions including Penn State, has administrative and legislative duties that

include approving and ratifying the actions of councils delegated by membership to

have legislative and enforcement authority. The President is responsible for certain

operational day-to-day functions such as convention arrangements, multidivisional

classification, contact with member institutions, championship administration,

advertising, use of broadcast footage, expenses, and hiring administrative personnel.

27. The Manual does not provide for the President, the Executive

Committee, or the Division I Board of Directors to have any role in investigating

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potential rules infractions or issuing sanctions. Under the Manual, the only NCAA

entity permitted to administer the NCAA enforcement program is the Committee on

Infractions.

28. According to the Manual, the enforcement provisions are explicitly

designed to protect “fairness of procedures,” serving the paramount concern of

protecting student-athletes. No enforcement action may be brought or discussed

directly with the member institution outside of the Committee on Infractions’

process. Indeed, the President, Board of Directors, and Executive Committee are

explicitly

barred from participating in enforcement proceedings, and they are not

permitted to review sanctions by the Committee on Infractions or its Appeals

Committee.

29. To protect member institutions and innocent student-athletes from

unfair sanctioning, the Manual includes a hearing procedure for processing violations

of NCAA rules. The hearing procedure provides a member institution the right to

appear and present evidence, as well as appeal any sanctions it believes may reach

too far and affect innocent parties.

30. While the NCAA has a range of sanctions available to the Committee

on Infractions, the so-called “death penalty” is the most extreme, banning a member

institution from competing in a particular sport. Consistent with its mission in

support of amateur student-athletes and fair play, the NCAA has used the death

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penalty against Division I institutions in extremely limited circumstances directly

affecting student-athletes or member competitiveness: for taking bribes to shave

points and for impermissible financial aid (University of Kentucky 1952); for cash

payments, impermissible monetary perks, and academic fraud including forging

transcripts and using surrogates to take exams for recruits (University of

Southwestern Louisiana 1973); and for direct cash payments to athletes (Southenr

Methodist University 1986). The Committee on Infractions considered, but declined

to impose, the death penalty for extensive recruiting and eligibility violations

(University of Kentucky 1989) and academic fraud, benefits to players, and deceit by

the institution to the NCAA (Texas Southenr 2012).

31. From the NCAA’s adoption of the current infractions regime until the

events descirbed below, no member institution faced a threat of the “death penalty or

other sanctions” from its competitors on the Executive Committee and the Board of

Directors, who sit outside of the enforcement process and are barred from issuing

sanctions or taking any position on alleged infractions.

 

C. Dr. Mark A. Emmert, President of the NCAA

 

32. Dr. Mark A. Emmert is the President of the NCAA, having become

the fitfh president of the nonprofit organization in October 2010. According to USA

Today, in running the non-profit NCAA, Dr. Emmert is paid $1.6 million per year

nearly 40 percent more than his predecessor. The substantial increase was the result

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of a decision of the Administrative Committee of the NCAA Executive Committee,

the members of which clearly had an expanded role in mind for their new president.

33. When Dr. Emmert assumed the presidency, the NCAA was under fire

by critics who assailed the organization for having been inconsistent in its imposition

of sanctions for violations of NCAA rules by member institutions and for being

generally ineffective in administering NCAA rules enforcement procedures. Even

under Dr. Emmert’s leadership, the organization continued to be plagued by dogged

criticism of the NCAA’s mishandling of several high-profile disciplinary matters

involving national member institutions with elite football programs, including

Auburn University, the University of Southern California, and The Ohio State

University.

34. Having assumed control of an organization with a reputation for being

sotf on discipline, particularly with respect to those member institutions with the

most successful and lucrative sports programs, Dr. Emmert was under a mandate to

change the NCAA’s reputation, even if doing so meant circumventing the procedures

established in the Manual. In August 2011, Dr. Emmert asserted that such sweeping

reforms had been “on [his] mind” since he first decided he wanted to take the job as

President of the NCAA in 2010. (See NCAA.com; July 19, 2011 -

http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/2011-07-19/emmert-substantial-change-needed).

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35. Dr. Emmert and the NCAA’s leadership, however, faced a key

obstacle. While the NCAA’s member institutions were eager, as a body, to appear to

be more aggressive in enforcing NCAA rules, no institution, understandably, was

prepared to waive the rights afforded it in the Manual.

36. In November 2011, the indictment of a despicable child predator, a

former long-time assistant coach of the Penn State football team, provided Dr.

Emmert with the opportunity he needed to signal emphatically that the NCAA his

NCAA would never again be regarded as soft on disciplining its member

institutions, particularly those institutions with elite football programs that Dr.

Emmert and the NCAA had been criticized for failing to discipline adequately until

that time. The fact that the alleged actions of those involved in the tragic events at

Penn State were criminal, and that no violations of NCAA rules had been identified,

would not dissuade Dr. Emmert from seizing upon the intenrational publicity that the

Penn State matter had instantly attracted to make a show of unprecedented nad

aggressive discipline discipline that he, with the input of a handful of university

presidents and chancellors, would determine and impose. Once and for all, the

NCAA would shed the reputation of being sotf on discipline, even if doing so meant

ignoring the existing NCAA rules and processes that its member institutions

justifiably expected and to which they were entitled. Given such

na opportunity, the

well-being of Penn State students and alumni, the employment of thousands of

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Pennsylvanians, and the economy of the Commonwealth were matters with which

Dr. Emmert could not be concenred.

^ Indictment and Trial of Gerald A. Sandusky

37. On November 4, 2011, the Commonwealth filed criminal charges

against Gerald A. Sandusky after an extensive and wide-reaching grand jury

investigation into reports of Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of children. That same

day, the Commonwealth filed criminal charges against Penn State’s Athletic Director,

Timothy M. Curley, and its Senior Vice President-Finnace and Business, Gary C.

Schultz, for allegedly failing to report allegations of child abuse by Sandusky to law

enforcement or child protection authoirties in 2002 and for allegedly committing

perjury during their testimony about the allegations to the Grand Jury in Dauphin

County, Pennsylvania, in January 2011 (together, the “Sandusky Offenses”).

38. From the moment that news of the pending indictment of Sandusky

broke, the Sandusky Offenses generated national headlines on a daily basis. In the

days and weeks following the revelation of the Sandusky Offenses, Penn State’s

handling of the Sandusky Offenses became a target of federal as well as state law

enforcement authorities, and the Sandusky Offenses created a public relations crisis

for the university. In a matter of weeks, a university community that had rallied

around its popular and respected football program for more than fotry years suddenly

found itself broken.

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39. On June 22, 2012, a Centre County jury in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

found Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of the criminal charges against him. On October

9, 2012, Sandusky was sentenced to a term of 30 to 60 years in prison, effectively

guaranteeing that he would spend the remainder of his life in jail. On November 1,

2012, the Attorney General announced that Curley, Schultz, and former Penn State

President Graham Spanier had been charged by a grand jury with perjury, conspiracy,

obstruction of justice, and child endangerment. These cases have not, as of the filing

of this Complaint, been brought to trial.

^ 1 The Sandusky Offenses were horrific. The seveirty of their effect on

Sandusky’s victims, the Penn State community, and the Commonwealth as a whole

cannot be overstated. Governor Corbett and the govenrment of the Commonwealth

of Pennsylvania unequivocally condemn the actions of Jerry Sandusky and the

alleged failures of any university official that contirbuted to the concealment of abuse

perpetrated by a despicable child predator.

E. The Freeh Report

41. In the wake of the filing of cirminal charges against Sandusky, Curley

and Schultz, on November 21, 2011, Penn State commissioned the law firm of Freeh

Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, at a cost to the

university of approximately $6.5 million, to investigate the failure of Penn State

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personnel to respond to and report Sandusky’s crimes and the circumstances under

which they could occur.

42. On July 12, 2012, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP issued a 267-page

report of its findings (the “Freeh Report”). The Freeh Report was unsparing in its

criticism of Penn State leadership, concluding, among other things, that the most

senior leaders at Penn State had exhibited “total and consistent disregard … for the

safety and welfare of Sandusky’s victims” and had worked together to conceal

Sandusky’s crimes for fear of bad publicity and out of sympathy for Sandusky.

43. The fallout from the Freeh Repotr was switf, blunt, and far-reaching.

Press reports uniformly condemned the Penn State leadership that had, according to

the repotr, allowed Sandusky’s cirmes to continue for years. Penn State promptly

issued a statement recognizing the “sda and sobeirng” nature of the Freeh Repotr,

accepted full responsibility for the failure of its administration to protect the welfare

of children, and began the process of implementing many of the recommendations

included in the Freeh Repotr.

 

F. The NCAA Becomes Involved

 

It became clear atfer the announcement of the Sandusky Offenses in

November 2011 that Penn State would have to answer to law and other enforcement

and oversight authorities on multiple fronts for the alleged conduct of university

personnel and leadership. The criminal investigation of the Sandusky Offenses was

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ongoing. Penn State faced an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into

whether the university failed to report incidents of sexual abuse on campus, as

required by federal law. The Board of Trustees had already announced plans for an

internal investigation, the faculty senate was calling for an independent investigation,

and the trustees were known to be in the process of retaining an independent firm to

begin the investigation that would result in the Freeh Report. Penn State’s public

image had been significantly tarnished.

45. The NCAA, however, was not about to miss an opportunity to bring

Penn State down even further, or to attempt to improve its own public image by

assetring its relevance as a protector of “student-athletes. ” For Dr. Emmert and the

Executive Committee, this was the opportunity to switfly accomplish what the

NCAA rules did not then allow. Although the Freeh Repotr did not find any

violation of NCAA rules, or any conduct traditionally sanctioned by the NCAA, the

NCAA chose to “pile onm to the valid actions of law enforcement authorities against a

weakened member institution with a Tne too” investigation.

^• Dr. Emmert’s decision to make an example of a weakened Penn State

came soon atfer the criminal indictments, and prematurely forecasted that the process

the NCAA would employ in doling out punishment would radically depart from its

established rules and procedures. On November 17, 2011, Dr. Emmetr issued a letter

to Penn State President Rodney Eirckson demanding Penn State’s production of

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information related to the grand jury indictment. Atfer issuing the letter, Dr. Emmert

posted it on the NCAA’s website, itself a departure from the NCAA’s long-standing

tradition of not publicizing its commencement of investigations against its member

institutions: This disciplinary action would be different, and Dr. Emmert wanted

everyone to know it. In issuing the letter, Dr. Emmert ended any notion that Penn

State would object to the procedures he intended to employ or the discipline he would

impose when he wrote: “I look forward to the complete cooperation of Penn State in

our review

and any future action that we may take. (NCAA Letter to PSU,

November 17, 2011) (emphasis added). Dr. Emmert’s foreboding reference to

“future action that [the NCAA] may take” was made more than seven months before

the publication of the Freeh Report, the sole factual basis upon which the NCAA

would rely to rationalize the unprecedented sanctions it imposed on Penn State.

47. Upon information and belief, the NCAA’s decision to conduct an

inquiry of a member’s exercise of institutional control, without any suspected

accompanying violation of a specific NCAA rule or bylaw, is unprecedented. Until

the public nanouncement of the Sandusky Offenses, the NCAA’s enforcement

activity had been confined to NCAA rules govenring the recruitment of prospective

student-athletes, the eligibility of student-athletes, and practice and competition

rules designed to further the NCAA’s legitimate purposes of ensuring a level playing

field for athletic competition and protecting student-athletes from the excessive

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pursuit of athletic success at their expense. Never before had the NCAA injected

itself into offenses that did not involve cheating, academic fraud, recruiting

violations, or other conduct designed to give athletic programs an unfair competitive

advantage. Yet, Penn State, for obvious reasons, had no choice but to state publicly

that it would cooperate with the NCAA’s involvement.

Other than send and publicize the November 17 letter, the NCAA did

very little with respect to its inquiry in the months that followed. Following the

publication of the Freeh Report in July 2012, however, the NCAA made its move

but not, as the Manual requires, through the Committee on Infractions. Instead, Dr.

Emmert took the matter directly to the Executive Committee and Division I Board of

Directors. Not surprisingly, these core groups which consisted of presidents and

chancellors of Penn State’s competitor colleges and universities—chose to seize the

opportunity to impose switf and severe sanctions that caused no harm to the

perpetrators of the Sandusky Offenses, but would severely cripple a major competitor

and irreparably harm the citizens of the Commonwealth. These punishments

included:

(a) A $60 million fine, payable over a five-year period, to be paid

into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or

assisting the victims of child sexual abuse;

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(b) A four-year ban on football postseason play, including bowl

games;

(c) A four-year reduction in football scholarships from 85 to 65

total scholarships per year and from 25 to 15 initial scholarships per year;

(d) Four years of probation, including appointment of an oncampus,

independent integrity monitor;

(e) Vacation of all football wins between 1998 and 2011;

(f) Waiver of NCAA rules restricting transfer of student-athletes

between colleges, so as to permit football players to transfer from Penn State

to another institution without having to sit out a year before competing, as is

normally required of transferring student-athletes; and

(g) Requiirng Penn State to permit football players wishing to

remain at Penn State to retain their athletic scholarships, regardless of

whether they continue to play football.

^• Dr. Emmert and the presidents and chnacellors, however, faced what

ordinairly would be significant obstacles to imposing such unprecedented sanctions.

The NCAA Manual vests enforcement authority in the Committee on Infractions, and

expressly bars involvement by the President, the Executive Committee, or the

Division I Board of Directors. And the Committee on Infractions issues sanctions

only atfer conducting an investigation and providing the accused member institution

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with an opportunity for a hearing and a right to appeal. Given that Penn State did not

engage in any conduct expressly prohibited by any NCAA rule, but was suspected

only of violating vague principles of “institutional control” and “individual integrity,

a finding that Penn State violated NCAA rules would not be a certainty. In fact, it

would require the Committee on Infractions to take the unprecedented step of

sanctioning a member institution

solely for violating these vague principles, without

any accompanying concrete infraction.

50. In order to avert these difficult challenges, Dr. Emmert and the

presidents nad chancellors found a convenient path around the NCAA’s due process

protections. They simply informed Penn State what the punishments would be, and

threatened that if Penn State did not waive its right to due process and accept the

sanctions offered, the NCAA would impose the “death penalty” for four years.

While such a dilemma would seemingly merit a thoughtful discussion among

university leadership, the NCAA further threatened President Erickson that the deal

would be taken off the table if nay word of the “negotiations” was leaked to the

media thereby precluding nay possibility of meaningful consideration by the Penn

State Board of Trustees. The type of “complete cooperation” that Dr. Emmert

advised Penn State he looked forward to receiving in his November 17, 2011 letter

was now clear: accept unprecedented sanctions and ignore the NCAA’s lfagrant

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disregard of its own procedures in issuing such sanctions, or Penn State would wish it

had.

G. The “Consent” Decree

51. Penn State had no practical alternative but to accept the sanctions. On

July 23, 2012, just eleven days after the release of the Freeh Report, President

Erickson reluctantly entered into a consent decree with the NCAA imposing the

proposed sanctions and waiving “any claim to further process, including, without

limitation, any right to a determination of violations by the NCAA Committee on

Infractions, any appeal under NCAA rules, and any judicial process related to the

subject matter of this Consent Decree.

52. The consent decree did not set fotrh any specific NCAA rule or

requirement violated by Penn State. Instead, it cited a “failure to value and uphold

institutional integrity, ” “failure to maintain minimal standards of appropriate and

responsible conduct,” and “lack of adherence to fundamental notions of individual

integrity.”

53. Moreover, the consent decree acknowledged that, since Penn State

had succumbed to the NCAA’s coercion and accepted the “findings” set forth in the

consent decree, “traditional investigative and administrative proceedings” i.e., due

process would be “unnecessary.” Instead, the consent decree stated, Penn State’s

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acquiescence to the NCAA’s fiat permitted “an expedited timetable” for imposing

sanctions.

54. Remarkably, the consent decree acknowledged the extraordinary

nature of the NCAA’s involvement: “The sexual abuse of children on a university

campus by a former university official and even the active concealment of that

abuse while despicable,

ordinarily would not be actionable by the NCAA

 

(Emphasis added.) What purportedly made Penn State’s case unique, according to

the consent decree, was that the Sandusky Offenses were enabled by a “culture” of

“fear of or deference to the omnipotent football programm and a @reverence for Penn

State football.

55. In reality, the NCAA’s attack on Penn State had nothing to do with

the perceived “culture” of Penn State football. Division I college football is a huge

generator of revenue for participating institutions, and vitrually all “football schools”

treat their football coaches and programs with “deference” and “reverence The

NCAA, of course, contributes directly to this “culture” by permitting and condoning

lucrative television and apparel contracts for its major conferences and institutions,

outsourcing its postseason to for-profit entities such as bowl games and the Bowl

Championship Series, and allowing the contests between its most skilled “studentathletes”

to become national prime time entertainment on a weekly basis. The

widespread nature of the “culture” the NCAA claims to have found to be unique to

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Penn State is perhaps best illustrated by the public remarks of the president of The

Ohio State University, who, when asked whether he considered firing Ohio State’s

successful head football coach after major NCAA rules violations, replied, “I’m just

hopeful that the coach doesn’t dismiss me.

56. The NCAA’s attempt to insert itself here is so inconsistent with its

prior conduct in similar situations that it can be seen only as a clumsy attempt to

garner positive publicity for itself by harming a competitive member school. There

are a number of publicly reported examples of criminal conduct by college athletes

where the university leadership is alleged to have covered up or enabled the crimes

and the NCAA did little, if anything, about it:

(a) In 2003, when one Baylor University basketball player

murdered another, secretly recorded audiotapes revealed that the team’s

coach tried to cover up the allegations by telling assistant coaches and

players to lie to investigators and say the slain player had been dealing drugs

to pay for school. Although the NCAA imposed penalties for competitionrelated

violations, such as the payments by the coaching staff to athletes, it

imposed no penalties relating to the murder and cover-up.

(b) In 2010, a University of Virginia men’s lacrosse player

murdered his former girlfriend, who played for the women’s lacrosse team.

The victim’s mother has alleged in a lawsuit that the university, its athletic

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director, and its lacrosse coaches ignored the perpetrator’s erratic behavior,

including multiple alcohol-related arrests, frequent intoxication, and attacks

on another female university athlete. The NCAA has not taken action

against the University of Virginia.

(c) The U.S. Department of Justice has alleged that the University

of Montana failed to investigate or prosecute numerous allegations of rape

by Montana football players. The NCAA has not taken action against the

University of Montnaa.

(d) A recent internal investigation at the University of North

Carolina revealed massive academic fraud, including unauthorized grade

chnages by forged signatures, and classes in which no instruction took place;

approximately forty percent of the students enrolled in these classes were

football nad basketball players. In August 2012, one month after

sanctioning Penn State, the NCAA took the public position that none of the

alleged conduct violated NCAA rules.

57. The capriciousness of the NCAA’s decision to single out Penn State is

further relfected in numerous comments made by Dr. Emmert about the supposed

“unique” and “unprecedented” nature of the “culture” problem at Penn State. For

example, at his news conference announcing the consent decree, Dr. Emmert

responded to questions about the enforcement precedent the Penn State snactions

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might create by saying the Penn State case was @i’ncredibly unprecedented in every

aspect of it, as are these actions that we’re taking today This is a very distinct

and very unique circumstance. Dr. Emmert also asserted that “it’s important to

separate this from a traditional enforcement case This was and is action by the

Executive Committee exercising their authority It was completely different than

an enforcement process. With these statements, Dr. Emmert and the Executive

Committee attempted to ensure that the sanctions against Penn State, and the

abdication of any procedural rights that should have been afforded to Penn State,

would not be compared to any past or future NCAA enforcement actions.

58. Moreover, although the NCAA approved a new enforcement structure

on October 30, 2012, which will take effect in August 2013, the new procedures

like the current Manual—contain nothing even remotely resembling the

“methodology” used by the NCAA in forcing sanctions on Penn State. Neither do

the changes include any prohibition on a “culture” of “deference” to athletic

programs. The absence from the new procedures of any additional rules that would

have addressed the Sandusky Offenses, or of any transfer of enforcement power to

the President, the Executive Committee, or the Division I Board of Directors, further

suggests that the NCAA leadership is not contemplating treating any other member

institution the way it treated Penn State.

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59. The NCAA’s role in creating the widespread “football culture,” and

its inaction in the face of less-publicized criminal violations arguably attributable to a

lack of institutional control, demonstrate that the NCAA’s allegations about the Penn

State “football culture” were merely a pretext for the NCAA’s unspoken reason for

singling out Penn State for unprecedented punishment: because Penn State, given the

nature of the Sandusky Offenses, simply could not fight back. Unlike the other

incidents of alleged corruption infecting college athletics, the Penn State events were

reported daily on the national news and had seeped into the public consciousness.

The NCAA knew that the high-profile and well-deserved public vilification of the

university officials who allegedly failed to report the Sandusky Offenses had placed

Penn State in a position where resistance to any sanction, from any source, would be

futile and would negate Penn State’s effort to rebuild its public image.

1 In the weeks following the NCAA’s gutting of the Penn State football

program, at least ten Penn State football players transferred from Penn State, taking

advantage of the NCAA’s sanction that allowed them to play immediately for

competing schools. At least five football recruits severed their commitments to Penn

State. Like children looting a newly broken pinata, competing colleges and

universities promptly snapped up the newly available football players, strengthening

their own football programs at the expense of the one the NCAA had conspired to

decimate.

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H. Antitrust Violations

 

61. The egregiousness of the Sandusky Offenses, and the behavior of top

Penn State officials in allegedly failing to report them, is beyond dispute. Yet the

NCAA, and the competing colleges and universities represented on its governing

boards, cynically and hypocritically exploited the tragedy of the Sandusky Offenses

as a “blank check” to impose crippling and unprecedented sanctions on an already

weakened competitor.

62. The fact that the NCAA had never before punished a school for

criminal behavior and that its rules did not provide for such punishment did not stop

the NCAA in this instance. Dr. Emmert and the NCAA exercised their power

through a never-before-used process, one specifically designed to cripple a member

institution’s football program. In this new approach, the NCAA’s leaders and

governing committees, rather than the traditional investigators and Committee on

Infractions authoirzed by NCAA rules, imposed the penalties. By doing so, they

declared that the NCAA and its president have the authority not only to enforce

specific rules, but to cirpple a collegiate athletic program for what they determined

was inappropriate conduct. While what occurred at Penn State was both cirminal and

heinous, it is unclear, at best, that the conduct violated nay of the rules as wirtten in

the NCAA’s voluminous rulebook nad policed by its enforcement staff.

Consequently, the NCAA’s discipline of Penn State is an unprecedented approach

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that dramatically broadens the scope of punishable offenses, but, as Dr. Emmert has

suggested, may not be used again for years, if ever.

63. The actions by the NCAA, its member institutions, and specifically

the institutions represented on the NCAA’s executive committee and board of

directors, in threatening Penn State with the football “death penalty” and forcing

Penn State into accepting the consent decree, constitute concerted action within the

meaning of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. The NCAA, as an

organization of competitors, is prohibited from imposing, and arbitrarily enforcing,

rules that bear no reasonable relationship to the NCAA’s need for self-regulation for

the purpose of denying the benefits of patricipation to a single competitor, and

thereby lessening competition.

•’ The NCAA’s stated requirements of “institutional integrity, m

“appropriate and responsible conduct,” and “fundamental notions of individual

integrity” are unreasonably vague; have been arbitrarily, capriciously, and selectively

enforced; and, as applied to Penn State, are not reasonably related to the NCAA’s

stated purpose of promoting the fainress and integrity of collegiate athletic

competition.

65. The sanctions levied against Penn State were not intended to

accomplish any end within the contemplation of any policy justifying college

athletics’ self-regulation through the NCAA. The conduct for which Penn State was

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sanctioned consisted of alleged failures to report criminal activity on campus that did

not impact fainress or integrity on the playing field. Unlike any previous sanctions

imposed by the NCAA, the sanctions against Penn State do not even ostensibly serve

the NCAA’s stated goal of protecting the fairness of intercollegiate athletic

competition. Rather, they were taken for the purposes of debilitating a once-powerful

football program, enhancing the NCAA’s own reputation, and boosting the

competing football programs of cetrain member colleges and universities by

removing from competition one of the leading competitors.

•• The sanctions levied against Penn State were completely arbitrary,

and the NCAA provided no procedural safeguards to protect against arbitrariness. To

the contrary, the NCAA ignored its own procedural safeguards, exploiting Penn

State’s vulnerable public position to force Penn State to agree to a complete and

unprecedented waiver of NCAA due process.

67. The NCAA, its member colleges and universities, and particularly, the

competitor colleges and universities engaged in this collective assault on Penn State

for the purpose of enhnacing their own public image at the expense of a competitor.

The NCAA and its member colleges and universities engaged in this activity in an

effort to cirpple Penn State’s ability to maintain a nationally renowned football

program that is a centerpiece of campus life and community support, and thereby

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irreparably harm the citizens and the general economy of the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania.

•: In attempting to rationalize why he did not impose the “death penalty”

on Penn State, Dr. Emmert acknowledged the impact of the NCAA’s punishment of

Penn State on the citizens of Pennsylvania: “The collateral damage imposed in this

case would have been on people who were essentially innocent bystanders … This

case had nothing to do with the marching bnad or the mom-and-pop hotel in State

College or the guy who sells hot dogs, all of whom would have been profoundly

affected by a multiyear football ban. (http://articles.philly.com/2012-10-

26/sports/34731017_1 n_c aa-president-mark-emmert-bowl-ban-penn-state).

Ironically, the consequences of the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions against Penn

State had precisely the effect that Dr. Emmert allegedly was attempting to avoid.

 

I. Relevant Markets and Threatened Harm to Competition

 

•• There are at least three relevant markets harmed by the NCAA’s

actions: a market for postsecondary education, a market for Division I football

players, and a market for the sale of college football-related apparel and memorabilia.

All three markets are nationwide in geographic scope.

70. The market for postsecondary education comprises colleges and

universities across the United States that offer education at the postsecondary level.

Penn State’s enrollment annually ranks it among the ten largest U.S. colleges and

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universities by enrollment. Penn State’s significance in this market is further

underscored by a 2010

Wall Street Journal survey of recruiters from leading

companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, which ranked Penn

State first in the nation among schools “whose bachelor degree graduates were the

best-trained and educated, and best able to succeed once hired.

71. The market for Division I football players comprises all NCAA

Division I football programs that compete for top football talent coming out of the

nation’s high schools. The most successful college football programs compete

aggressively for the relatively small number of high school seniors who can play at

the Division I championship level. Indeed, the zeal with which these member

institutions compete in recruiting football players is evidenced by the voluminous

NCAA rules governing the smallest details of recruitment, ranging from limits on a

recruit’s visits to a particular campus to limits on the number of times a coach may

send the recruit an email. These players are crucial to an NCAA member

institution’s ability to compete successfully and generate revenue, and many of the

most impotrant tools used by institutions in recruiting players such as athletic

scholarships and the oppotrunity to compete in postseason play are the very tools

restricted by the NCAA sanctions against Penn State.

72. The market for the sale of college football-related apparel and

memorabilia comprises the numerous major college athletic programs that compete

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against each other to build national “brands” beyond their campus communities.

Penn State is one of handful of programs that has built such a`brand,” largely

through the sustained success of its football program. The ability to compete

successfully in this market depends heavily on a college or university’s consistent onifeld

success.

73. The NCAA sanctions against Penn State threaten severe and

irreparable harm to each of these markets through the removal of a major competitor.

Rarely, if ever, in the history of college sports has the NCAA imposed sanctions as

severe as those forced on Penn State. The handful of situations that most closely

resemble the Penn State sanctions, however, suggest that the sanctions are likely to

have the following irreparable damaging effects on Penn State:

(a) A decline in the success of the football team during the fouryera

period in which the sanctions are imposed, as a direct result of the

reduction in the number of available scholarships, the inability of Penn State

to promise high school recruits that they will have the oppotrunity to

compete for a national championship, and the ability of existing Penn State

players to transfer to other schools without penalty or to leave the Penn State

football team without losing their athletic scholarships.

(b) A decrease in the success of the football team beyond the fouryear

peirod in which the sanctions are imposed. The effects of the sanctions

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are likely to become more pronounced with each progressive year during the

period of the sanctions as an increasing number of “blue chip” recruits

shun Penn State for other programs that do not face Penn State’s competitive

disadvantages. By the time the sanctions period is complete, the

anticompetitive harm inlficted by the NCAA will have caused severe

damage to Penn State football, and the program that once attracted recruits

from across the nation will be unrecognizable to a new generation of high

school football players who can remember Penn State only as a

noncompetitive program. This is precisely what happened when the NCAA

imposed the “death penalty” at Southenr Methodist University for only a

single season. The team had only one winning season over the following

twenty years.

(c) A significant decline in the Penn State football program’s role

as a revenue-generator for the university. As a result of the loss of revenue,

Penn State necessarily will be required to either (i) reduce the availability

and/or quality of some of its programs and/or (ii) raise tuition, either of

which will necessarily have an adverse effect on Penn State’s status as a

first-rate university and on Penn State’s ability to attract the quality and

quantity of student body that has contributed to Penn State’s success. These

effects, in turn, can be expected to harm the university’s ability to compete

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for high-quality faculty and research programs, which in tunr will further

affect Penn State’s attractiveness to incoming students, creating a downward

spiral. Indeed, there is already empirical evidence of this harm. According

to one recent news report, Penn State’s football program has already

dropped significantly in profits in 2011-2012: “Perhaps most glaringly

absent from the top 10 most profitable programs is Penn State, which held

the second spot just a year ago and third the previous year. Atfer a

tumultuous year off the field, Penn State fell to 11th place” with a 10%

decrease in revenue.

(d) Reduced alumni interest in the Penn State football program,

which will likely result in reduced alumni contributions to Penn State.

(e) Irreparable injury to the quality of campus life at Penn State.

For more than fotry years, Penn State has rallied around its football team,

and the role that Penn State football plays in campus life has been important

to Penn State’s ability to attract students from within and outside the

Commonwealth. The inevitable decline in the football program that will

result from the NCAA sanctions threatens to significantly and irreparably

injure Penn State’s use of this invaluable recruiting tool.

(f) Irreparable injury to the “brand” of Penn State football. As the

fate of the football program on the field declines, apparel and memorabilia

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sales can be expected to decline as well. As difficult as it will be to rebuild

the on-field success of Penn State football, rebuilding of the Penn State

football “brand” will be far more difficult, and will take far longer, than

reassembling a winning football team.

74. The role that a championship-caliber football program can play in the

health of a university has been articulated by Dr. Emmert himself, who, as chancellor

of Louisiana State University in 1999, defended the hiring of big-name football coach

at a seven-figure salary by saying, “Simply put, success in LSU football is essential

for the success of Louisiana State University.”

 

J. Threatened Harm to the Commonwealth

 

75. As a direct, foreseeable, intended, and proximate result of the actions

of the NCAA, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has suffered and, if enforcement

of the NCAA sanctions is not enjoined, will continue to suffer, severe and irreparable

harm. The NCAA’s actions have inlficted, and/or threaten to continue to inlfict,

harm including but not limited to:

(a) Harm to the many Pennsylvania citizens who depend heavily on

the Penn State football program for their jobs and livelihoods, ranging from

souvenir vendors to hotel and restaurnat employees to tuition-paying

students.

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(b) Harm to the state revenue base from diminished football ticket

sales. Attendance at home football games is substantially down in 2012 as

compared to recent years, and Penn State’s inability to sell out home games

necessarily has an economic effect on the secondary market for tickets.

(c) Harm to the state revenue base from lessened hospitality

revenue due to fewer visitors to the Commonwealth on game weekends, as

well as a substantial reduction in apparel and memorabilia sales.

(d) Harm to the state revenue base, nad especially to Penn Staterelated

businesses, from the four-year postseason football ban and the

vacation of all football wins between 1998 and 2011, further reducing

hospitality revenue and substantially reducing apparel and memorabilia

sales, including the highly lucrative sales of bowl-related apparel nad

memorabilia.

(e) Harm to the state revenue base from the expected decline in

jobs attributable to a diminished football program, in the form of loss of

recirculation within the Commonwealth of income lost as a result of these

lost jobs.

(f) Harm to the state revenue base from diminished spending by

Penn State on capital improvements, goods, services, and supplies.

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(g) Harm to the state revenue base from diminished interest in and

attendance at collateral Penn State football events, such as summer football

camps, fantasy camps, and coaches’ clinics, all of which generate substantial

attendance from out-of-state visitors.

(h) Additional harm to the Commonwealth from the $60 million

fine, which will necessarily be paid through some combination of tuition

hikes and increased appropriations from the Pennsylvania treasury.

(i) Harm to current Penn State students, in the form of a

diminution in value of the Penn State educational and community experience

to which they and their families have made a significant and long-term

financial commitment, relying in part on the prominence of the Penn State

football program.

76. Most, if not all, of the injuries described above will last well beyond

the term of the sanctions. The stigma attached will diminish recruitment of students

and student athletes, as well as the value of a Penn State education, for decades.

77. No adequate remedy at law can compensate the citizens of

Pennsylvania for the damage being inflicted by the NCAA.

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V. CAUSE OF ACTION: VIOLATION OF SECTION 1

 

OF THE SHERMAN ACT-15 U.S.C. § 1

 

78. Plaintiff incorporates and re-alleges each allegation set forth in the

preceding paragraphs of this Complaint.

79. The NCAA and its member institutions, by and through their officers,

directors, employees, agents or other representatives have conspired to restrain and

suppress competition in the relevant markets using the Sandusky Offenses as a

pretext to impose arbitrary, capricious, and unprecedented sanctions on Penn State

for actions wholly unrelated to the mission of the NCAA. The conduct of the NCAA

and the member institutions who engaged in the attack on Penn State threatens to

harm competition in the relevant markets by depriving consumers of a robust, wellsupported,

financially stable state-related university in the Commonwealth and

eliminating a major competitor in the markets for Division I football players and

college football-related apparel and memorabilia.

 

EII

 

As a result of defendant’s illegal and anticompetitive scheme, the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens have suffered and continue to suffer

antitrust injury. This injury is of the type the federal antitrust laws were designed to

prevent and lfows from that which makes defendant’s conduct unlawful.

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81. Defendant and its co-conspirators’ anticompetitive acts were

intentionally directed at the United States market and had a substantial and

foreseeable effect on interstate commerce, including but not limited to hospitality

revenues, the lfow of scholarship funds, and the allocation of revenues and profits in

the relevant markets.

82. The conduct of the NCAA and its member institutions as a result of

the consent decree is ongoing and will continue to impose antitrust injury on the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvnaia and its citizens unless injunctive relief is granted.

 

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

 

WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays as follows:

A. the Court issue a permanent injunction to prevent defendant, NCAA,

from imposing the snactions set forth in the consent decree on Penn State;

 

LI

 

the Court judge the sanctions imposed on Penn State to be in violation

of Section 1 of the Sherman Act;

C. the Court award plaintiff the costs of the suit, including attonreys’

fees, as provided by law; and

 

L1

 

the Court award such other and further relief as is just nad proper

under the circumstances.

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DATED: January 2, 2013 Respectfully submitted,

/s/ James D. Schultz

James D. Schultz, General Counsel

Pennsylvania Bar #83417

Jarad W. Handelman, Executive Deputy General Counsel

Pennsylvania Bar #82629

Governor’s Office of General Counsel

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

333 Market Street, 17 th Floor

Harrisburg, PA 17101

Tel: (717) 783-6563

Facsimile: (717) 787-1448

jamschultz@pa.gov

jhandelman@pa.gov

/s/

Melissa H. Maxman

 

Melissa H. Maxman, Esquire

 

Pennsylvania Bar # 58009

 

Cozen O’Connor

 

1627

I Street, N.W., Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20006

Tel: (202) 912-4800

Facsimile: (202) 640-5520

mmaxman@cozen.com

OF COUNSEL:

Ronald F. Wick, Esquire

Cozen O’Connor

1627

I Street, N.W., Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20006

Tel: (202) 912-4800

Facsimile: (202) 640-5526

rwick@cozen.com

Counsel for Plaintiffs

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