CENTRE COUNTY, Pa.
The NCAA is facing a new legal attack after the family of the late coach Joe Paterno was joined by former players and others connected to Penn State in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the landmark sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The lawsuit being filed against the NCAA by Paterno's family comes after an appearance on national TV Wednesday night by representatives for the family.
The lawsuit is more fallout from the Sandusky scandal and the university's internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The Freeh Report was used by the NCAA to impose sanctions against Penn State.
This new lawsuit comes from legal counsel representing the Paterno family, who are joined by several university trustees, faculty members and former football players.
"The lawsuit is being filed against the NCAA and Mark Emmert, in his individual and official capacity as the president of the NCAA, and Edward Ray, who was the chairman of the executive committee of the NCAA. It's being filed by certain trustees, certain former players, certain former coaches, certain former faculty members, as well as the estate of Joe Paterno, to redress the NCAA's 100 percent adoption of the Freeh Report and imposition of a binding consent decree against Penn State University," said Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers. "The reality is that consent decree was imposed through coercion and threats behind the scenes and there was no ability for anyone to get redress."
In January, Gov. Tom Corbett filed a federal suit against the NCAA dealing with alleged anti-trust violations by the NCAA.
The new 40-page suit from the Paternos is being filed in in Centre County Common Pleas Court and is more far-reaching than the governor's. It attacks the Freeh Report, which concluded that Joe Paterno conspired with three other Penn State administrators to cover up the Sandusky scandal.
Paterno died in January 2012. His family and the former school officials have vehemently denied they took part in a cover-up and their lawsuit wants to take a closer look at the Freeh Report.
On Wednesday, Sollers and other family representatives spoke with Bob Costas on his NBC Sports Network show, along with other media, in previewing the latest lawsuit.
Sollers said the NCAA bypassed its typical lengthy investigative process and relied on Freeh's report, then bullied Penn State behind the scenes into agreeing to the sanctions.
The penalties against Penn State included a $60 million fine. The NCAA also vacated 111 wins from Paterno's record, meaning he would no longer hold the title of major college football's winningest coach.
The lawsuit lodges six counts against the NCAA, Emmert and Ray, including breach of contract, civil conspiracy, defamation and commercial disparagement, according to Sollers' statement.
Sollers has said the suit would ask for the sanctions and agreement between school and the NCAA to be deemed unlawful and the penalties overturned.
The lawsuit also would ask for unspecified damages and court costs, Sollers said, though the family would donate any net proceeds to charity.
It's expected the NCAA will go for an early knockout and first ask a judge to dismiss this latest legal challenge against them.
The family planned to post the complaint on www.paterno.com after it was filed.
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