Just three days into 2013, we have a strong contender for Dunce of the Year.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, has done the impossible: made the NCAA a sympathetic figure and deepened the horror of the Penn State child-rape scandal. Corbett filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA last week, claiming that the penalties it imposed on Penn State, which the university accepted in the aftermath of the scandal, are too “harsh.”


The Associated Press reported Thursday: “Corbett wants a federal judge to throw out the sanctions, saying they have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with (Jerry) Sandusky’s crimes against children.”

The NCAA responded, correctly, that the lawsuit was “an affront” to Sandusky’s victims and their families.

The AP also reported: “Penn State said it had no role in the lawsuit. In fact, it agreed not to sue as part of a deal with the NCAA to accept the sanctions, imposed last July after an investigation found that (football) coach Joe Paterno and other top officials covered up sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky, a former member of Paterno’s staff, for more than a decade in order to shield the university from bad publicity.

“The lawsuit filed Wednesday represents an about-face for Corbett. Six months ago, he encouraged Penn State to ‘accept the serious penalties’ imposed by the NCAA.

“The deal was highly unpopular with many fans, students and alumni. Corbett, who is up for re-election next year, deflected a question (at a news conference) about whether his response has helped or hurt him politically.

“‘We’re not going to get into the politics of this’,” he said.

Oh, let’s do.

It is hard to image a more disgusting political maneuver, one that the good people of the commonwealth should denounce by punting him out of office. Republicans should think ahead and primary him.

While Penn State is not party to the lawsuit, Corbett is a university trustee. He therefore faces, among other things, an untenable conflict of interest by maintaining a lawsuit on behalf of Penn State, which had embraced the penalties he is seeking to eradicate.

I am not delving into the merits of the lawsuit, including how the governor tries to get past the settlement agreement struck between the NCAA and Penn State, because the issue here is not legal but moral.

No penalty can repair the damage that was done to so many lives or correct the endemic corruption of a university that allowed a child predator to operate for so long.

To challenge whatever penalty was arrived at is hideous. Corbett’s lawsuit is a disgrace, and politicians of both parties should denounce it.

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative American columnist and a blogger for The Washington Post.

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