UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State President Rodney Erickson said he hopes to move quickly to resolve lawsuits with victims of Jerry Sandusky who plan to sue the university.
In an interview with the CBS show Face The Nation on Sunday, Erickson also restated his view that accepting the harsh penalties handed down by the NCAA likely prevented a football death sentence for Penn State.
Sanctions included a loss of football scholarships, a four-year postseason ban, a $60 million fine and the vacating of all wins from 1998 to 2011.
There are aspects of the sanctions, certainly, that I think were certainly very heavy, but we were given a choice, Erickson told Bob Schieffer of CBS, and I continue to feel that that was the best choice that we could make under the circumstances.
A partial transcript of the interview was provided to the Centre Daily Times by WTAJ, the CBS affiliate based in Altoona.
Erickson was asked about Sandusky Victim 2, still unidentified, who came forward this week and has hired lawyers with the intent to sue Penn State.
In all, 10 victims were listed in evidence against Sandusky during his child sex abuse trial in June, when the former Penn State defensive coordinator was convicted on 45 of 48 counts.
Eight young men testified for the prosecution.
We hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible, Erickson said. We dont want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation. If we can come to an agreement with them, with their attorneys, we believe that would be the best possible outcome in this whole very, very difficult, tragic situation.
Erickson said he believes Penn State is adequately covered to handle any lawsuit payments through insurance.
We have, like any university of our size, both directors and officers as well as general liability coverage, he said.
Schieffer offered his reactions to Ericksons responses to several other questions:
On removal of the Joe Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium: He says its in a secure and safe place. He feels it had become such a lightning rod that it had become a safety issue.
On reactions by trustees and others to the handling of the NCAA penalties: I know some trustees were upset that Erickson accepted the sanctions. A lot of people thought he rolled over. But he had no choice, as he tells the story, because he was told unless the university accepted the sanctions the NCAA was proposing, the alternative was no more football for a while.
On the severity of the NCAA sanctions: He recognizes you can't have something happen like this without consequences. These were horrendous crimes covered up for years. Someones got to pay when that happens.