Though some are arguing that the funds from Penn State’s $60 million fine, imposed as a part of the NCAA sanctions against the university, should remain in-state, that kind of thinking misses the mark.
Instead, the independent task force recently appointed to oversee the use of the funds should focus first and foremost on identifying how to put the money to good use toward programs that prevent child abuse and aid those who have experienced it — whether those programs are in Pennsylvania or across the nation.
In accordance with the consent decree signed with the NCAA in July, Penn State is slated to pay $12 million a year for the next five years into a special endowment to be used to fund programs for the detection, prevention and treatment of child abuse. According to Penn State Live, the NCAA has pledged to see that at least 25 percent of that money will toward “qualifying organizations” within Pennsylvania.
The task of determining how that money might further be used will fall to a task force made up of 10 members — two of whom are Penn State faculty — who have ties to nonprofit organizations, the federal government and the NCAA.
We’re glad to see Dean of the College of Health and Human Development Ann Crouter and Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs in the College of Medicine Craig Hillemeier bringing a voice from the university to the table when it comes to evaluating the use of these funds. Both faculty members have extensive backgrounds in issues relating to children. Crouter, a faculty member of the College of Health and Human Development focuses on issues related to children, youth and families. Hillemeier is Medical Director and Head of Pediatrics at Hershey.
We disagree with legislators, though, who are calling for all of the funds to remain in Pennsylvania. In a recent letter to the NCAA, Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, wrote that “the endowment’s very creation was sparked by a tragedy that occurred in Pennsylvania and which scarred the lives of Pennsylvania children.” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, is also arguing that the money should stay — splitting it up elsewhere, he says, risks “diluting the effectiveness of the $60 million.” We hear a similar chorus from Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, who says the endowment should go exclusively to Pennsylvania because it “was created from a Pennsylvania tragedy with Penn State money.”
Of course, the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case happened in Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only place it could have happened. Every day, at least five children die in the United States in connection with incidents of abuse — “the worst record” in industrialized nations, according to ChildHelp.org.
We shouldn’t be focused on preventing abuse in Pennsylvania simply because of the circumstances of the Sandusky case.
We should recognize that the Sandusky case is a tragedy that’s one part of the “hidden epidemic,” as ChildHelp.org calls it, of child abuse that’s occurring each day, in states across the country.
This money should be about finding ways to do the greatest good in preventing abuse and providing support to those who have been abused. If the task force is able to identify a group that effectively does that, that’s where the money should go.
To keep the funds resigned to the Keystone State would be to ignore the fact that child abuse is a pervasive issue that affects children — and adults who were abused as children — far beyond Pennsylvania.