Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
One state senator says he’s done asking nicely for the $60 million fine against Penn State to be spent in the commonwealth.
Centre County Republican Jake Corman has sent two letters to the NCAA and had one phone call with a staff member since its president, Mark Emmert, announced sanctions against PSU in July for the role the school’s football program played in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The money from fines is supposed to be donated to abuse victims’ organizations, but the NCAA has insisted only a quarter of the total fine will be disbursed to groups in Pennsylvania. Corman said he doesn’t understand why.
“The issue all happened here,” he said, referring to the instances of child abuse uncovered in the prosecution of Sandusky. “These are dollars raised through mostly Pennsylvanians. I would hope the NCAA wouldn’t fight this, [that] they would just agree to it and say, ‘Look, the spirit of what we’ve asked for is being adhered to, so good.’”
Corman’s proposed legislation would require the fine against Penn State to be redistributed within the commonwealth, though not to any organizations affiliated with the university. He saw his opening for the bill in the language of the NCAA’s agreement with PSU, which sets the fine amount and the rules for re-distributing the money.
“The consent decree does say it needs to be pursuant with Pennsylvania law, so we are going to set up a policy, hopefully very quickly, that says in a matter like this, that the university is subject to such a penalty that those dollars will go for the betterment of Pennsylvanians,” said Corman.
The measure would apply to any college or university fined $10 million or more by a governing body. It would apply retroactively to the first $12 million installment Penn State has already made to the NCAA.
“I don’t think this is going to be a hard sell, to keep money here locally,” said Corman. He said state Senate Republican leaders have already told him they’ll support the bill, as has Gov. Corbett.
“The NCAA, as an athletic trade association, overstepped its authority by forcing Penn State to endure harsh, unjustified and unprecedented punishment,” said Gov. Corbett in a written statement. “To the extent that Sen. Corman’s legislation deals with financial sanctions, it is easy for me to give my support for that money to go to Pennsylvania organizations.’’
Corman says he’d like to see his measure passed in February, though it’s not a hard deadline.
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