It was an optimistic choice of words: At least 25 percent of Penn States $60 million NCAA fine will stay in Pennsylvania to support child abuse programs here.
But said another way, as much as 75 percent of the Penn State fine could go elsewhere.
Thats not right. The NCAA levied the fine among its sanctions for Penn States handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and has said at least 25 percent will be used in Pennsylvania.
We think all of the Penn State $60 million should return to programs in Pennsylvania, with as much as possible targeted to support efforts in Centre and neighboring counties.
The crimes for which Sandusky was convicted occurred here.
Most of the victims of those crimes and their families are here.
And the broad impact of this scandal and the NCAA sanctions is being felt most directly here in central Pennsylvania and across our state.
Certainly the NCAA should see this. There was good news in Penn States representation on the NCAAs Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force, announced last week. Thats the committee charged with deciding what types of programs should receive support from the Penn State fund and how the endowment should be managed moving forward.
Two Penn State faculty members were named to the 10-person task force: Nan Crouter, dean of the College of Health and Human Development; and Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs at the College of Medicine.
The remaining eight members will include university officials and leaders from major nonprofits and foundations.
It is our hope that the group although geographically diverse will recognize that the best way to generate a positive outcome after this tragedy is to develop and support programs in Pennsylvania and in our region specifically.
The local response to the tragedy has been strong and focused, with groups banding together to increase awareness of child sexual abuse and to raise funds for programs for abused children. This past Saturdays Blue- Out at Beaver Stadium was a fine example, and there have been many others.
Organizations in our midst have joined forces to provide training so that people more quickly recognize abuse around them and understand the need to report abuse to the authorities.
A local movement will lead to a childrens advocacy center being established in Centre County in the coming years. The center will allow for a less-intrusive process for child victims to tell their stories to the authorities.
Does our regions positive response to the situation mean we deserve all of this funding? Of course not.
But it should show that we understand the gravity of the situation and that we are dedicated to taking steps to help abused children and combat such horrific crimes in the future.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller was among those urging the NCAA to use the endowment in part to fund child advocacy centers in this area and across the state.
One ideal way to allocate this money which is in line with the dictates of the NCAAs purpose, she said, is to fund child advocacy centers where the DAs office, law enforcement and (childrens services) build solid investigations against these predators in a manner which is safe, comforting and collaborative and provides thorough aftercare long term to the child victims. We agree.
And we applaud statements by state House Democratic leader Frank Dermody, of Allegheny County, who likewise has called for all of the $60 million to stay in Pennsylvania.
Not only is this endowment being completely funded by Penn State with Pennsylvania dollars, Dermody said, but the endowments very creation was sparked by a tragedy that occurred in Pennsylvania and which scarred the lives of Pennsylvania children.
If more money were made available for programs in Pennsylvania, we suspect many who study or work in the Penn State system at University Park and across the state would be quick to say, How can I help?
President Rodney Erickson and other Penn State officials took the high road concerning how the NCAA will handle the endowment created by that $60 million fine.
They applauded the report that at least 25 percent of the money will come back to Pennsylvania.
But we think it should be much more. Hillemeier, after being named to the NCAA task force, said: Well be able to put the funds to work right here. I think thats an important thing to be able to do. Yes it is.
And imagine how much more we could do if all of that $60 million returns to Pennsylvania.