STATE COLLEGE, Pa. —
"It's difficult to justify the sanctions as necessary to protect the amateur nature of college sports, preserve competitive balance or maintain academic integrity," he said.
Joseph Bauer, an antitrust expert at the University of Notre Dame law school, said of Corbett's line of reasoning: "I don't think it's an easy claim for them to make, but it's certainly a viable claim."
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, some of them on Penn State's campus. He is a serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.
Michael Boni, a lawyer for one of the victims, said he does not consider the lawsuit an affront. But he said he hopes Corbett takes a leading role in pushing for changes to state child-abuse laws.
"I really question who he's concerned about in this state," Boni said.
Corbett, a Republican, said his office did not coordinate its legal strategy with state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 15. Instead, the current attorney general, Linda Kelly — a Corbett appointee — granted the governor authority to pursue the matter.
Kane, a Democrat, ran on a vow to investigate why it took prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky. Corbett was attorney general when his office took over the case in 2009.
Kane had no comment on the lawsuit because she was not consulted about it by Corbett's office.
Paterno's family members said in a statement that they were encouraged by the lawsuit. Corbett "now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment," they said.
The NCAA erased 14 years of victories under Paterno, who was fired when the scandal broke in 2011 and died of lung cancer a short time later.
An alumni group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, applauded the lawsuit but said Corbett should have asked questions when the NCAA agreement was made.
"If he disapproved of the terms of the NCAA consent decree, or if he thought there was something illegal about them, why didn't he exercise his duty to act long before now?" the group said.