The NCAA’s sanctions came down hard on Penn State, but one of them is being touted as a victory for victims’ advocates everywhere.
Penn State must pay a $60 million fine — about the equivalent of the football program’s revenue for one year — and that money will go toward an endowment for child sex abuse support or prevention. They can’t be Penn State programs.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is “thrilled” about the creation of an endowment. Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for the Harrisburg-based group, said the funding will create “a source of enduring support.”
“We were really heartened at Dr. (Mark) Emmert’s understanding of the full picture and appreciate his comments on needing to bring the focus as to what this is really about,” she said, referring to the NCAA’s president.
Penn State is partnering with PCAR to raise awareness against abuse, and Houser said football coach Bill O’Brien had reached out to her organization in May about involving the football team.
She was set to talk with O’Brien about that on Monday, but that meeting was canceled.
“We’re looking forward to working with the football program and university at large at bringing about the culture changes,” she said.
Anne Ard, the director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, said she hopes the money will be used toward abuse prevention services in Centre County. She said prevention is chronically underfunded and takes a back seat to victim services when funding is tight.
“Prevention is the very thing that gets cut first,” she said. “To do it well, it’s a labor-intensive activity.”
Andrea Boyles, executive director of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, said she’s pleased the money will be channeled that way. She said prevention starts with adults.
Boyles said the emotions being felt by the community about the sanctions against Penn State football need to be put into the perspective of someone who’s just experienced abuse.
“If everybody can just pause for a moment and imagine the emotion of being a 10-year-old boy who’s being abused by a trusted coach, loved one ... we have to keep that in perspective.”
Chris Anderson, the exective director for MaleSurvivor, believed the sanctions were appropriate and said the heart of the story was the young man who testified against Jerry Sandusky at trial and will need years of support.
“I urge everyone to save some of their concern for the needs of all survivors who continue to need support so that they can heal.”
The president of another advocacy group, the Rape and Incest National Network, said he’s glad the NCAA was focused on helping survivors and preventing abuse.
“It is very significant that the NCAA paid attention to the impact this case has had on survivors across the country,” said the president and founder, Scott Berkowitz.
Several attorneys for the victims in the Sandusky case declined to comment, but Philadelphia attorney Tom Kline offered the following thoughts:
“It is noteworthy that the penalty is voluntary, by consent decree, and heavily weighted towards NCAA control and does nothing directly to compensate the victims, which, of course will be a separate process in the civil courts in Pennsylvania,” he said.