Sen. Jake Corman’s bill aimed at keeping the $60 million NCAA fine levied against Penn State within Pennsylvania gained more legislative ground Wednesday with a unanimous 50-0 affirmative vote in the state senate, Corman’s Legislative Director Scott Sikorski said.
The parameters of Senate Bill 187, as it is officially known, dictate that it is a new policy in Pennsylvania that deals with institutions of higher education that receive commonwealth funds. Sikorski explained that this involves commonwealth-supported institutions of higher education that enter into agreement with governing bodies that propose a fine of $10 million or more.
Sikorski said Corman’s office acknowledged there is a contractual agreement between the school and the governing body.
He said this draft of legislation is predicated on the idea that residents are going to make up the fine’s funding because there is a commonwealth-related educational mission. Part of that mission, he said, will be affected, so the goal of the bill is to keep these fines in Pennsylvania.
Sikorski added that the intent is also to deposit the fine in a custodial account that will gain interest in the state treasury.
He further noted the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has been charged with disbursing the funds that will go toward child sexual abuse protection programs, as well as assistance for those affected by child sexual abuse.
The PCCD board responsible for this includes attorney generals, representatives from each caucus, members of the governor’s administration, district attorneys and victim advocates, Sikorski said.
Concerning the next steps in the legislative process, the bill will have to pass both chambers identically. Should the House amend it, it will have to “come back,” Sikorski added.
He said Gov. Tom Corbett has stated his support for the bill and it has further been met with “warm reception” in the House.
“We hope there are no concerns on the governor’s side, but we think it’s a good bill; we think it’s a good policy, and so far we’ve heard a lot of positives about the issue,” he said. “We hope that the bill can move shortly.”
Also stumping for the bill, Rep. Scott Conklin’s Chief of Staff Tor Michaels underscored the importance for the fine to stay within the Commonwealth.
“Any effort that can help that along we definitely support,” he said.
The NCAA issued a statement via email regarding the matter.
“The NCAA is monitoring the legislation closely, including examining whether, if enacted, the proposed legislation would violate both the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions,” the statement read.
In connection with the bill, Trustee Anthony Lubrano cited Corman’s statement that reads “…due process provides the integrity needed to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable. The NCAA’s rush to judgment… undermines our societal and legal need for the essential due process.”
But the NCAA was not the only party to rush to judgment in this matter, he said via email.
Sikorski said the bill may prove useful in future situations.
“We feel that this situation is captured in the legislation because it’s currently happening,” he said. “We feel it deals with the Penn State situation, and it will deal with any other situation in the future.”