Penn State will feel financial hit

When you’re talking about accusations of child abuse, the mere discussion of money seems, in and of itself, totally inappropriate.

But the fact is, the damage numerous Penn State University officials appear to have caused by at best neglecting,– and at worst hiding– a scandal involving a coach is far worse than had they revealed it to authorities in the first place.

Bruce Pearl knows from cover-ups. His own attempt to hide a recruiting violation at the University of Tennessee last year cost him his multi-million dollar coaching job with the Vols this summer. Speaking exclusively to FOX Business, Pearl said while his violation (which involved lying to NCAA investigators about off-campus recruiting efforts) was on a completely different level than the child abuse scandal swirling around Penn State University, the pressure to win and hence, bring in more school revenue through a sports program is all too similar and probably was a huge motivating factor in the alleged cover-up.

“Pressure to win, pressure to win. When you’re winning, they’re worried you’re going to leave and when you’re losing, they’re packing your bags. So you’re either coming or going, and is it a ‘win at all costs’ (issue)? Sometimes it is,” said Pearl.

As former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky faces numerous child sex abuse charges, child advocacy groups, alumni and the general public are spewing vitriole at Penn State. They’re furious that coach Joe Paterno was allegedly told about at least one incident involving Sandusky and a child, yet Paterno didn’t forcefully pursue action on the matter by bringing it directly to police. Pearl’s convinced the power of sports programs and the all-important dollars they bring to the university, in part drove a cover-up.

“Were there some things going on to protect the program? To protect coach Paterno? To not tarnish the brand which is Penn State football? Yes, the power of a coach, the power of the position and what could potentially be millions of dollars as it relates to affecting a program was enormous and (to) perhaps folks keeping this quiet,” Pearl said.

Pearl believes the scandal is probably already siphoning money from the $72 million-plus program as supporters, horrified by the scandal, scatter.

“Donors, and what’s going to happen there? Are they going to stop making their contributions? Television…what’s the interest in Penn State football without Joe Paterno," Pearl said. "What’s going to happen to this coaching staff now? Recruits … look, perception moves the market as you know. Perception influences recruits as to where they go. Who’s going to take over Penn State? What’s going to be left of this football program? It’s going to have a major, major impact on their future.”

The impact of the accusations is already being felt financially. In the wake of the scandal, Moody’s ratings agency revealed it’s evaluating whether the university’s credit rating should be downgraded due potential exposure to lawsuits. A downgrade could significantly hike the university’s borrowing costs.

In the end, Pearl, who told me he probably ‘won’t coach again,’ said Paterno’s legacy is badly damaged because he didn’t reveal the truth.

“The man is going to suffer tremendously because he didn’t go forward," Pearl said. Keep in mind he’s not the one that did the crime but he has a responsibility. It’s just a lesson for all of us that you have to do the right thing.”