Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Centre County Commissioners blast NCAA penalties

One day after the NCAA handed down historic penalties to Penn State, the Centre County Board of Commissioners again voiced their opposition to and frustration over the sanctions.

“About the time we think we’re ready to move forward, the scab gets ripped open again,” said Steve Dershem, chairman of the board.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said at the group’s regular meeting Tuesday. “I’m really hoping there comes a time when we can begin to heal.”

On Monday, Dershem and Chris Exarchos decried the sanctions, which include a $60 million fine, a four-year football postseason ban, forfeiture of more than 100 wins, and the loss of scholarships.

At the meeting Tuesday, Exarchos said he finds the situation “appalling,” and added due process was set aside.

“Let’s not destroy a great university and a great community,” Exarchos said. “We’re not guilty by association for the failing of a handful of people.”

The sanctions follow the conviction of former Penn State coordinator Jerry Sandusky on child sexual abuse charges, and the Louis Freeh report, which indicated former top administrators, including the late coach Joe Paterno, knew about the allegations and covered them up.

The commissioners and others, however, have criticized the NCAA for largely punishing current and future students and the local community.

“Obviously we’re very concerned about the economic impact,” Dershem said. “This is the time for Centre County to remember Penn State’s importance to the county. I think the university in general needs the support of the entire community.”

Commissioner Michael Pipe said the commissioners in no way meant to minimize what happened to Sandusky’s victims.

But he agreed with Dershem and Exarchos that the sanctions carry “unintended consequences” for the community.

“I have tremendous hope and optimism for Penn State,” Pipe said. “Now we’ve got to move forward.”

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the commissioners opened five bids for pharmacy services at Centre Crest nursing home.

Officials said the bids, which include separate prices for roughly 200 drugs, will require in-depth analysis before total costs can be determined.

The commissioners gave county employees 30 days to go through the bids before returning with a recommendation.

Rich Bruno, Centre Crest administrator, said the pharmacy services are a $1.5 million overall expense, though the majority is paid by Medicare.

“We pass over a million doses of medicine,” Bruno said. “We’ve got to get it right every time.”

The commissioners also approved a $12,925 contract with Tower Services Unlimited for the inspection of 11 county 911 towers. Officials said the inspections are to determine whether the existing towers can handle pending upgrades to the county 911 system.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter