Joe Paterno's family to sue NCAA on behalf of Penn State

By Chip Patterson | College Writer

The NCAA and president Mark Emmert are named in the Paterno family lawsuit to be filed Thursday. (USATSI)
The NCAA and president Mark Emmert are named in the Paterno family lawsuit to be filed Thursday. (USATSI)

The family of late Penn State coach Joe Paterno plans to file a lawsuit against the NCAA with hopes of overturning sanctions against the Nittany Lions related to the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Wick Sollers, the Paterno family's attorney, released a statement late Wednesday night after the news was confirmed during an interview with Bob Costas on NBC Sports Network's Costas Tonight. In the interview, Sollers said the lawsuit targets the NCAA, NCAA president Mark Emmert and Oregon State president Edward Ray, who was chair of the NCAA's executive committee.

The 40-page lawsuit, to be filed on Thursday, will attempt to focus on the report prepared by former FBI director Louis Freeh and call into question why the NCAA used the report as a basis for its sanctions. In the statement, Sollers said the NCAA "acted in clear and direct violation of the organization's own rules based on a flawed report."

"This case is further proof that the NCAA has lost all sense of its mission. If there was ever a situation that demanded meticulous review and a careful adherence to NCAA rules and guidelines, this was it," Sollers said. "Instead, the NCAA placed a premium on speed over accuracy and precipitous action over due process."

Less than two weeks after Freeh released his findings, the NCAA announced an unprecedented set of sanctions that included a four-year bowl ban, heavy scholarship reductions and a $60 million fine.

The NCAA also vacated 111 wins from Paterno's record, meaning the late coach would no longer hold the title of college football's winningest coach.

According to Sollers, the lawsuit will ask for the sanctions -- and hasty agreement to the penalties from the university -- to be deemed unlawful and the penalties overturned.

"The broader goal is to get the truth out," Sollers told the Associated Press. "This narrative that's in public that was perpetuated by the NCAA's adoption of the deeply flawed Freeh report … cannot stand."

As of Friday morning, there was no response from the NCAA or Emmert.

 
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