Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Standing for Penn State

Any federal lawsuit by the disgruntled trustees is going to be dismissed, fairly quickly, on standing grounds. The four trustees have suffered no personal injuries. And I do not see how four individual trustees can sue on Penn State's behalf; even if the Board of Trustees could sue on the school's behalf, the majority of the 32-person Board has ratified President Erickson's decision. Four trustees simply do not wield that authority under state law. What they are trying to do is sue as fans or supporters of Penn State; but they have no more right to sue here than alums such as Franco Harris or my former co-clerk (who is also a former football player).

As for these efforts keeping the scandal in the public light, contrary to the NCAA's best efforts: At some level, this illustrates exactly what was, and continues to be, wrong at this institution and its thoroughly out-of-whack priorities with respect to the football team. At another level, were a lawsuit to be successful, I expect it would backfire badly in the court of public opinion. I have not heard anyone point to specific points on which the Freeh Report was wrong or to specific evidence that contradicts anything in the Report. So if the lawsuit reveals in discovery the information and evidence on which the Freeh Report was based, it is only going to make Penn State look worse than it already does.

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