In a court order on Monday, September 19th, Potter County Senior Judge John Leete ordered the NCAA to give up every communication it had with its administrators, board members, and officials at Penn State University concerning sanctions against Penn State and the Consent Decree repeal.
In addition to ordering the NCAA to disclose its communications records, Leete ordered the NCAA to reveal a log of all documents that were withheld due to attorney-client privilege. Leete is presiding over the lawsuit which was filed in 2013. The NCAA, NCAA president Mark Emmert, and prior NCAA executive committee chair Ed Ray are being sued by Paterno’s estate and former Penn State coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno. According to the lawsuit, the NCAA is being sued for defamation and commercial disparagement.
The lawsuit claims that the Louis Freeh report was used by the NCAA even though it may not have been accurate. According to Louis Freeh in the report, the late Joe Paterno and top administrators at Penn State University ignored Jerry Sandusky abuse allegations in 1998 and again in 2001. According to the NCAA, it thought the investigation was complete.
The Paternos say they have suffered damages due to the claims regarding Joe Paterno in the report. They say that Joe Paterno’s image has declined financially. Moreover, the Paternos believe Jay Paterno’s college coaching career has been impeded. Jay Paterno worked under Joe Paterno for 17 football seasons. His coaching job ended when Bill O’Brien was hired in January of 2012.
The NCAA objected to the Paternos’ request for the documents, saying that the request was not important to the case nor timely. However, according to Leete, the NCAA received the request a month before the April 29th discovery deadline. Leete wrote the following, “Integral to the issue of malice is that Plaintiffs must prove Defendants had knowledge of, or acted in reckless disregard of, the falsity of the statements made in the Consent Decree.” He also wrote, “Information related to the reasoning behind the repeal of the Consent Decree is therefore reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
Leete also ruled that NCAA President Mark Emmert is in fact a defendant. What’s more, he gave the NCAA the right to argue that the case is unfounded due to a federal court dismissing a wrongful termination case that William Kenney and Jay Paterno filed in February. According to U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel, Kenney and Jay Paterno lost their jobs due to normal turnover that occurs when a new coach is hired. The incident took place months prior to the release of the Freeh report. Also according to Stengel, no evidence exists to suggest that Penn State made defamatory remarks about Kenney and Jay Paterno. Leete also made several rulings related to the case in August.