By Peter Rudegeair
(Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett faces serious obstacles to winning his antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over the harsh sanctions it imposed on Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, legal experts said on Wednesday.
While targeting the National Collegiate Athletic Association may be popular politically in a state where Penn State football is widely loved, the federal court handling the case might rule that the state lacks standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place, experts said.
Moreover, the state of Pennsylvania must demonstrate the NCAA penalties harmed consumers and constituted a breakdown in the competitive marketplace.
"It's not a frivolous lawsuit - there are real arguments to make - but, boy, is it weak," said Max Kennerly, a lawyer with the Beasley Firm in Philadelphia who has been following the case closely.
The sanctions the NCAA imposed on Penn State in July included an unprecedented $60 million fine and the voiding of all of the football team's victories over the past 14 seasons.
Corbett's lawsuit was distinct in that, unlike the university, the state of Pennsylvania was not a party directly affected by the sanctions. Instead, Corbett brought the suit on behalf of third parties such as stadium workers, shopkeepers, hoteliers and others whose businesses were disturbed because of the NCAA's penalties.
The obstacle Corbett faced was "converting what may be real and perhaps significant harm" to Penn State students and athletes and local businesses into an antitrust violation, said Gabriel Feldman, a professor at Tulane University Law School.
"This is an extremely uphill battle for Pennsylvania," Feldman said. Continued...