Pa. congressman unhappy with NCAA fine guidelines
A Pennsylvania congressman voiced displeasure Thursday with how the NCAA president responded to a request from the state's U.S. House delegation that all of the $60 million in Penn State fines in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal be distributed to causes within the state.
Republican Rep. Charlie Dent said in a statement that Mark Emmert's response was ''unacceptable and unsatisfactory.''
The NCAA president said in a Dec. 12 letter to Dent that a task force charged with developing guidelines for an endowment and hiring a third-party administrator to distribute the funds is to allocate at least 25 percent of the fine money to programs in Pennsylvania.
''By outlining comprehensive plans to address child sexual abuse, of course, agencies within Pennsylvania have an opportunity to significantly increase the initial allocation to the Commonwealth,'' Emmert added.
An NCAA spokeswoman on Thursday said the organization stood by Emmert's correspondence.
The university met an NCAA deadline on Thursday by placing the first of five annual installments of $12 million into a money market account, while the task force works on recommendations due in early 2013. The transfer of the money to the endowment is expected to occur in the first half of next year.
The payment was made by Penn State's athletics department through an internal loan from university reserves and will be repaid with interest, the university said Thursday.
According to the university, in-state organizations also are slated to receive the first round of funding from the endowment. The university said it had heard from ''a number of organizations and survivors of sexual abuse'' with ideas of how funds could be used to benefit children in the state and across the country.
Emmert's reply didn't address the delegation's concerns, Dent said, but ''instead chose to hide behind the procedural mechanisms of the NCAA-created Task Force in order to deflect any sort of actual accountability for the disbursement of these funds.''
Of the 10 members on the task force, two are affiliated with Penn State: 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 task force chairman is Timothy White, chancellor of the University of California-Riverside.
Dent said directing funds to entities outside Pennsylvania runs contrary to its taxpayers' interests.
''I am greatly disappointed by Dr. Emmert's response and will continue to press for greater accountability and oversight of the NCAA on this and other matters,'' he said.
Sandusky, a former assistant to longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, was convicted this summer of sexually abusing 10 boys, some on campus. He is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison but maintains his innocence.
Three former university administrators also face trial on charges of perjury, obstruction and other offenses. They deny the allegations.
The abuse scandal led to the dismissal of Paterno, who died soon after, and elicited landmark NCAA sanctions including a four-year postseason ban and significant scholarship cuts.
Delegation members, in their Nov. 30 letter, noted that Sandusky's accusers were all Pennsylvania residents and all the ''substantiated reports of abuse took place within the Commonwealth.'' They urged that all fine money be dedicated to prevention and assistance programs within the state.
The NCAA, the governing body for college athletics, issued the fine as part of sanctions over the school's handling of the Sandusky matter.
University President Rodney Erickson agreed to the penalties in July. He said it was a difficult process but the university was left with little choice if it wanted to avoid a shutdown of its football program, known as the death penalty.
It's one of several tough decisions Erickson has made since replacing Graham Spanier, who left under pressure days after Sandusky's November 2011 arrest. Trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz cited Erickson's ''tremendous job'' leading the university through the last year when it was announced this week he has received a raise of $85,000 to $600,000, or a 16 percent bump.
Gov. Tom Corbett, a trustee by virtue of political office, said he was a ''little surprised'' about Erickson's raise and thought the timing was ''inappropriate.''
Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.