By: WJAC Web Staff and The Associated Press
BELLEFONTE – Some claims made by the Joe Paterno family and Penn State University supporters in a lawsuit against the NCAA can proceed to the next phase in court, a judge has ruled.
Senior Judge John Leete, of Potter County, issued his opinion Tuesday. He said that some parts of the legal battle between the Paternos and the NCAA can move to the discovery phase.
Paterno family lawyer Wick Sollers said Leete’s ruling was a “significant victory” for the case, saying that some of the most critical claims in the lawsuit against the NCAA will move forward. Leete’s decision allows both parties to continue with compiling and filing for discovery items, like subpoenaing documents and dispositions of people they think will be helpful to their cases.
The lawsuit includes family members of former Nittany Lion’s football head coach Joe Paterno, Penn State trustees and former football players and coaches who are in part trying to have the sanctions imposed by the NCAA in July of 2012 overturned.
The ruling would require the NCAA to share background information about the sanctions that were imposed. NCAA President Mark Emmert and former NCAA director Ed Ray are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Leete dismissed breach of contract claims related to the case, saying that Penn State University must become involved in the lawsuit in order for parts of the lawsuit to proceed. Leete gave PSU 30 days to join the lawsuit, saying the school is an “indispensable party” in the lawsuit.
The NCAA imposed the sanctions on the school following the issuance of the Freeh Report, the internal investigation Penn State paid for and that was compiled by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his company. NCAA sanctions against the school included a $60 million fine, loss of football scholarships, a four-year bowl ban and the vacating of more than 100 victories.
The NCAA did change direction on the scholarship reductions, allowing some scholarship to be reinstated over the course of several years. On Twitter Tuesday afternoon, two of Joe Paterno’s sons reacted to Leete’s decision.
“Ladies and Gentleman – the court just gave us Discovery in Paterno vs. NCAA. Here we go,” Scott Paterno tweeted. “The court left some claims alone, kicked others, replead others – bottom line the case moves forward. Bring it on.”
“There are some things in life you fight for to your last breath if need be. Penn State & the truth are worth fight for,” Jay Paterno tweeted.
There was no date given for when discovery materials would be required to be filed with the court.