Dermody to NCAA: Penn State endowment dollars must stay in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse tragedy, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody is pressing the NCAA to commit all money from a new Penn State University-funded endowment solely for child sexual abuse programs and organizations in Pennsylvania.
After receiving a letter from NCAA officials on Aug. 28 implying that the endowment would be open to organizations and programs nationwide, Dermody sent a letter to the athletic association, calling plans to make it a national endowment "unacceptable" and pushing for a firm commitment to make the endowment limited only to Pennsylvania groups.
Dermody, D-Allegheny, wrote: "it is my firm belief, and the belief of many Pennsylvanians, that 100 percent of this money must remain in Pennsylvania to fund programs and services to help child sexual abuse victims here. Not only is this endowment being completely funded by Penn State with Pennsylvania dollars, but the endowment’s very creation was sparked by a tragedy that occurred in Pennsylvania and which scarred the lives of Pennsylvania children.
"This was a Pennsylvania tragedy with Pennsylvania victims, and this is Pennsylvania money," Dermody continued. "An endowment created under such Pennsylvania-specific circumstances should require that all funds go to Pennsylvania programs and organizations."
He noted that many Pennsylvania organizations are working to fight child sexual abuse and to help victims of abuse, but state funding for these programs has been slashed by Gov. Tom Corbett. The new $60 million endowment, which would be funded by Penn State under a consent agreement with the NCAA, "would help soften the impact of those painful budget cuts and enable these programs to reach the children who so desperately need help," Dermody wrote.
"As you know, the wounds from the tragedy that occurred at Penn State are fresh for those of us who live and work here in Pennsylvania every day – and especially for the victims and their families, the Penn State students, faculty, staff and community," Dermody wrote. "We are united in our commitment to heal together and to prevent this kind of horror from ever happening again. This endowment can go a long way toward achieving those goals."
According to the NCAA, a "Task Force" is being established to create policies and processes to determine how to allocate and distribute the endowment funds. The NCAA said the task force will be comprised of "national experts on child abuse and the administration of endowments." Dermody pressed for the inclusion of Pennsylvania residents and victims’ advocacy groups on the panel.
"Pennsylvania must be represented on that Task Force, and the voices and needs of Pennsylvania victims of child sexual abuse must be at the core of the Task Force’s mission," Dermody wrote.
"I strongly urge the NCAA to respect and recognize how important it is to Pennsylvania child abuse prevention efforts, Pennsylvania child abuse victim support programs and Pennsylvanians in general, that Pennsylvania victims and families are the first and only priority with regard to this endowment," Dermody continued. "Every single dollar of this endowment should remain in Pennsylvania to help Pennsylvania victims."
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