On May 30, 2013, the Paterno family along with former football players, members of the Board of Trustees of Pennsylvania State University (“Penn State”) , former football coaches, and members of the faculty of Penn State filed suit against the NCAA, Mark Emmert, and Edward Ray in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Pennsylvania. The Complaint goes into to great detail to describe the NCAA’s enforcement process and how the NCAA failed to follow the process legislated by the membership, while uniformly adopting the Freeh Report. The Plaintiffs take umbrage with the NCAA’s adoption of the Freeh Report and its characterization of the Freeh Report as an “incredibly exhaustive effort.” Further, the Complaint argues that Freeh and his firm did not conduct an investigation into alleged NCAA rules violations, nor did the report make any findings concerning alleged NCAA rules violations.
The Freeh Report has come under great scrutiny since its issuance and the Complaint certainly points out the alleged numerous deficiencies. Specifically, among numerous other things, the Complaint indicates that Freeh conducted 430 interviews, but failed to interview four of the most crucial witnesses—Gary Schultz, Timothy Curley, Joe Paterno, and Michael McQueary. The Complaint, thus, claims that the NCAA (along with President Emmert and Dr. Edward Ray) conspired with Freeh to circumvent the NCAA rules and “strip” the Plaintiffs of their procedural protections under NCAA rules. The Complaint further claims that the Consent Decree is an indictment of the entire Penn State community and charges that the entire Penn State community created and maintained a culture that gave great deference to the football program in “disregard of the values of human decency and safety.”
Accordingly, the Plaintiffs alleged they have suffered damages and have asserted the following:
1. Joe Paterno suffered damage to his good name and reputation.
2. Willie Kenney and Jay Paterno suffered damages to their reputation and standing as football coaches and have been unable to secure comparable employment.
3. The Members of the Board of Trustees have been unable to fully carry out their administrative duties and have suffered substantial injuries due to the negative impact on Penn State’s budget and the University’s ability to attract high-caliber students and faculty.
4. The former student-athletes have been “wiped out” by the NCAA’s sanctions, which has injured their reputations and negatively affected their professional careers in football and other fields.
5. The current faculty members have been injured by the disparaging statements in the Consent Decree that cast a wide net of responsibility on the Penn State community, which has diminished the resources available for grants, departments, and programs.
The Plaintiffs seek recovery under causes of action for breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, injurious falsehood and commercial disparagement, defamation and civil conspiracy.