Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Do not go gentle into that good night

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (with the support of lots of Penn State students, alumni, and leaders, but not PSU itself) is filing an anti-trust action against the NCAA, claiming it lacked the power to sanction the school for "tangential" things such as covering up criminal activity by a person with close access to its football program. and what appears to be a PSU fan site both live-blogged Gov. Tom Corbett's press conference.

I know nothing about anti-trust, so I leave it to others to weigh-in on whether this has legs. I am surprised anyone associated with PSU or Pennsylvania wants to keep this thing alive even longer. But, here we go.

Update: Deadspin offers some analysis, including an embedded copy of the complaint.

Further Update: I just finished reading the complaint, which at 43 pages, 82 paragraphs, and one count offers a refreshingly "short and plain statement" for this type of case (compare the ridiculous tomes that passed for complaints in the Duke lacrosse cases). As I said, I know nothing about antitrust, so I really cannot speak to the merits of this lawsuit (the Deadspin writer I link to above is convinced the Commonwealth should and will win). But a few things jumped out at me.
   1) There really is no good actor in this case. The NCAA is a reprehensible organization, Penn State acted in a reprehensible fashion, and the Commonwealth happily benefited and encouraged it all.
   2) There is language throughout the complaint in which the plaintiff basically admits that the university is primarily a vehicle for operating a money-making football program, everything about the university revolves around that, and, essentially, Penn State is not Penn State if it loses its powerhouse football program. Everyone already knew this, of course, and its a legally significant fact that must be pled to show market harms in an antitrust case. Still, it is striking to see it in print. Relatedly, there is an odd blame-shifting in several places, in which the Commonwealth acknowledges that the PSU football program was out of control, but blames the NCAA for incentivizing it to be that way.

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