The NCAA levied their punishment on Penn State earlier this week, but maybe it’s time for the taxpayers to come down hard on the legislature and Governor since residents are actually the ones being punished. David Post sums up the situation quite nicely in this post at Volokh:
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.”
Most of the coverage we read about the news of the punishment on the day it broke didn’t mention that it cannot come out of the athletics budget. Our attitude was that the fine should only be paid by football budget and nothing else. If football staff had to be let go or the program dramatically reduced, so be it.* But with this news, oh no, this is not okay. We plan on letting our local lawmakers know that we find this be quite unacceptable to be on the hook for the civil penalties related to the criminal acts of others. Penn State can work its ass off fundraising for the money, but they should not be able to just toss it off to taxpayers or slash from academic programs to pay off for the bad behavior of the athletic staff.
However, taxpayers in Pennsylvania aren’t just screwed by this fine because insurance isn’t likely to pay off any claims that come from the Sandusky actions or cover-up.
The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance argues that Penn State withheld key information needed to assess risk, at least after school officials investigated a May 1998 complaint that Sandusky had showered with a boy on campus.
In a memo filed this week in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, the company argues that Penn State failed to disclose that it had information about Sandusky that “was material to the insurable risk assumed by PMA.”
The company, which has long insured the university, also argues that its policies after March 1, 1992, were amended to exclude “abuse or molestation.” The insurer also argues that coverage for such behavior is excluded as a matter of public policy in Pennsylvania.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough, it appears all taxpayers are picking up the dime for the feds to hire the ousted President.
Graham Spanier might have been ousted from his post at the helm of Penn State over the sex-abuse scandal that engulfed the university, but it seems he’s found a backup employer: the American taxpayer. …
His lawyer confirms to the Loop that Spanier is working on a part-time consulting basis for a “top-secret” agency on national security issues.
I guess they knew he was good at keeping secrets and leading cover-ups of government employees behaving badly.
*As an aside, I am sympathetic to the idea that the current players would be punished rather unfairly. Even with the current sanctions that essentially keep them from all post-season play, I would be supportive of the idea of giving all current and recently recruited Penn State football players an extra year of eligibility so that they can get their academic and financial affairs in order this year to transfer somewhere else.