A couple of days after the now-fairly-infamous Freeh Report was released with the results of the investigation into the Penn State child abuse scandal, I wrote the following here on the VC (in “NCAA To the Taxpayers of Pennsylvania: Drop Dead“):
So let me get this straight: The NCAA is ordering the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, because of the misdeeds of their agents, to set up an endowment program for preventing child sexual abuse and fund it to the tune of sixty million dollars?? And oh, by the way, taxpayers of Pennsylvania: you can take it out of lab space, computers, and teaching salaries, but YOU MAY NOT PAY THIS FINE BY REDUCING CURRENT SPENDING ON ATHLETICS!
This would be hilarious, except it is pathetic, and it has real consequences. I happen to teach at a (different) public institution in Pennsylvania, and I can tell you this: $60 million is a decent-sized chunk of a higher education budget that is under severe strain these days, with the Governor having recently proposed a 30% cut in all higher ed funding because, as he put it, “we simply don’t have the money.” This is real money we’re talking about, and maybe Penn State needs a 60 million dollar fund for fighting child sex abuse and maybe that money could better be spent elsewhere at the University — what in God’s name gives the NCAA the right to determine that?
. . . If Governor Corbett actually gives a damn about higher eduction, he should give this sanctions order all the respect it deserves, and tell the NCAA, on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Pennsylvania, to go to hell.
News now reaches me that Corbett has taken my advice (surely he reads the VC regularly, no?), and has filed suit against the NCAA challenging the imposition of these sanctions. Good for him. I haven’t had the chance to look at the specific legal arguments being advanced, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’ll repeat my offer to anyone at the PA AG’s office who might be reading this: If you’re looking for a PA legal academic to help on this suit, you know where to find me.