Penn State is paying $60 million over the next five years to fund programs for the detection, prevention and treatment of child abuse, but local legislators are arguing the money needs to stay in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, wrote a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association in early August encouraging them to keep the fine money imposed by the NCAA sanctions to organizations in Pennsylvania.
The NCAA has pledged that at least 25 percent of the endowment money will remain in Pennsylvania, but Dermody argued that, for the benefit of Pennsylvanians, all of the money needs to stay here.
Now, legislators are targeting the task force, appointed Tuesday, who will decide where to distribute the money.
The task force is made up of 10 members who were selected based on their involvement with national nonprofit organizations, the federal government and the NCAA, with two having Penn State ties, as previously reported.
Both Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs in the College of Medicine, and Ann Crouter, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, will represent Penn State, as previously reported.
“Not only is this endowment being completely funded by Penn State with Pennsylvania dollars, but the endowment’s very creation was sparked by a tragedy that occurred in Pennsylvania and which scarred the lives of Pennsylvania children,” Dermody wrote in his most recent letter to the NCAA on Sept. 14.
Dermody also wrote that because Gov. Tom Corbett continues to slash funding in his budget, it is even more important for the money to benefit those who have been impacted by childhood sex abuse.
Bill Patton, Dermody’s press secretary, said Dermody will continue to do whatever it takes to make sure the money from Pennsylvania constituents remains in Pennsylvania and benefits Pennsylvania programs.
Other legislators have also shared an interest in Dermody’s cause, Patton said, and his words continue to resonate with many representatives in serving as the House Democratic Leader.
Tor Michaels, chief of staff for Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, said that Conklin is supportive of Dermody’s request of the task force.
“Clearly this state is going to see the economic impact of these terrible sanctions, and the governor has proposed cuts in these areas,” Michaels said. “This would be a well-received reprieve from the terrible cuts that the governor has instituted, as well.”
Ignore the cuts to these programs though, and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said the taxpayers of Pennsylvania have still been responsible for paying for and supporting the trials and hearings surrounding the sexual abuse case.
Benninghoff also said that because many of the people Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing are from Pennsylvania, it’s clear that there is a need in this state to identify and correct the problem.
“Why should the money go somewhere else?” he said. “Frankly, if one other state or group wants it, you’re going to end up diluting the effectiveness of the $60 million.”
The NCAA has not placed a timeline on how soon it will allocate the money to its respective organizations, as previously reported. Penn State will pay $12 million a year for the next five years into the special endowment.
And while the task force deliberates on the recipients for the millions of dollars owed by Penn State, legislators have vowed to keep fighting and keep working for the money to stay in the Commonwealth.
“Yes, the Sandusky tragedy played out on the national stage, but the wounds are still fresh for those of us here in Pennsylvania, especially in Centre County and the surrounding communities,” said state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre. “This endowment was created from a Pennsylvania tragedy with Penn State money, and it should exclusively fund Pennsylvania programs that help Pennsylvania families.”