BSD Wentworth: Latest NCAA Response to Paterno Family Lawsuit

I'm not an attorney but I sure have read a lot of legal filings in the past 2+ years. So I was reading the latest NCAA filing (linked in this article) in response to the Paterno Family lawsuit, and I was struck by the lack of substance (my opinion). Examples:

  • First sentence, page 1 under Preliminary Statement, they present what I interpret to be little more than straw man arguments: "Plaintiffs ask this Court to rewrite history."; " . . . their case comes down to arguing that [the NCAA] and [Penn State] could not possibly have believed that (1) the grave failures of Penn State leaders and athletics personnel . . . justified any sanction on the University, or (2) that the Freeh Report . . . could possibly have had any credibility." [Note: emphasis on "possibly" is theirs, not mine.]
  • Followed by "Plaintiffs' case ignores reality, including a series of undisputed facts that they cannot try to seriously deny." They then go on to list a long list of things we already know: Paterno fired, statue removed, Spanier fired, BOT publicly embracing the Freeh Report, Curley and Schultz indicted, etc.
  • FYI, I noted a small factual error here: "A Pennsylvania Grand Jury indicted two senior Penn State athletic officials, including the former Athletic Director, on felony charges . . .". I don't believe Schultz or Spanier can be considered an athletic official.
  • And finally this: "To date, absolutely nothing has come out in the public domain to shake any confidence in Judge Freeh's report -- let alone show it was unreasonable for the NCAA and Penn State to rely on it in 2012 -- other than the purported findings of paid consultants working at the direction of the Paterno Estate." [Note: That paid consultant (Judge and FBI Director) Freeh is lauded, while paid consultant (Attorney General and Governor) Thornburgh is given this written backhand slap, is interesting.]

They finish up with the expected claim of adhering to both the spirit and the letter of NCAA bylaws, a reference to "clever pleading" by the plaintiffs, and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Maybe I'm off base and maybe I'm engaging in wishful thinking, but this filing seems especially weak -- almost like the NCAA is resigned to this lawsuit going forward and simply made a half-hearted effort at submitting a response to the court.

Has anyone else read the filing? Is this a typical filing at this stage of civil litigation? Is there anything new and of substance contained in it that I missed?

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