Programs serving child sexual abuse survivors will now receive millions of dollars as part of the NCAA's proposed settlement with Pennsylvania state officials. This lawsuit stemmed from the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State University for its role in allowing serial child sexual abuse to occur on its campus.
The proposed settlement agreement with the NCAA, university and state officials, among other things, restores Penn State’s vacated wins from 1998 through 2011.
Subject to board approval from Penn State and the NCAA, the new agreement between the NCAA and Penn State, replacing the 2012 consent decree between the parties, provides the following:
• Penn State agrees to commit a total of $60 million to activities and programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse and the treatment of victims of child sexual abuse.
• Penn State acknowledges the NCAA's legitimate and good faith interest and concern regarding the Jerry Sandusky matter.
• Penn State and the NCAA will enter into a new Athletics Integrity Agreement that (with concurrence of the Big Ten) includes best practices with which the university is committed to comply and that provides for the university to continue to retain the services of Sen. George Mitchell and his firm to support the university's activities under the Athletics Integrity Agreement and in the areas of compliance, ethics and integrity.
In July 2012, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Executive Committee issued unprecedented sanctions for Penn State’s role in enabling child sexual abuse to occur on campus. In addition to the $60 million fine and vacation of wins, these penalties included a four-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions, five-year probation and a waiver of transfer rules. The NCAA Executive Committee restored postseason access and the full complement of scholarships in 2014, based on the recommendation from Athletics Integrity Monitor Sen. George Mitchell in response to the university’s progress.
“I am pleased to learn that financial resources to help child sexual abuse survivors will soon become available,” Sen. George J. Mitchell said. “I remain impressed with Penn State’s progress to date and look forward to its many reforms and improvements continuing to take root.”
“Continuing this litigation would further delay the distribution of funds to child sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine,” said Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina president and member of the NCAA Board of Governors. “While others will focus on the return of wins, our top priority is on protecting, educating and nurturing young people.”
The lawsuit originally asked the judge to restrict the distribution of the $60 million fine to child sexual abuse prevention organizations in Pennsylvania rather than national organizations. The NCAA repeatedly attempted to resolve the dispute regarding the fine, even agreeing to move the funds into a state endowment rather than distribute them nationally as originally intended. The judge denied this motion and expanded the lawsuit to include the NCAA’s authority to act in this matter, which the plaintiffs did not previously question. Penn State initiated the latest settlement discussions in mid-December.
“Today’s agreement with Penn State reaffirms our authority to act,” said Kirk Schulz, Kansas State University president and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors. “The NCAA has a legitimate role when a member’s actions threaten the integrity of college sports. We acted in good faith in addressing the failures and subsequent improvements on Penn State’s campus. We must acknowledge the continued progress of the university while also maintaining our commitment to supporting the survivors of child sexual abuse.”
The NCAA will aggressively defend the Paterno estate’s challenge to the validity of the now-replaced consent decree.