Penn State and others to use bowl revenues for child protection

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Twelve Big Ten schools, including Penn State, each have been given a portion of what would have been Penn State's football bowl revenues from the past season to distribute to child-focused causes they deem appropriate.

Officials in the Big Ten Conference are providing $188,344 to each university to donate to a local organization of their choice, whose primary focus is on protecting children and advocacy on behalf of children. The money for each school represents one-twelfth of the revenue Penn State would have earned during the 2013 bowl season -- a total of nearly $2.3 million -- had the Nittany Lions been allowed to participate. 

Penn State was banned from 2013 bowl game participation as part of Big Ten sanctions that were handed down following the investigation of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA also banned the Nittany Lions football program from competing in postseason play for four years and imposed a series of penalties and corrective actions.  

Penn State has opted to channel its funds through the Centre County United Way with instructions to split the money equally between the Stewards of Children program and the Children's Advocacy Center.

Stewards of Children is an awareness program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse. The program is designed for organizations that serve youth and for individuals concerned about the safety of children. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence-based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors.

"This is a transformational gift that will assure Stewards of Children continues in Centre County and that we meet and exceed our goal of training 5 percent of all residents," said Tammy Gentzel, executive director of the Centre County United Way. "Increasing awareness among adults in our community will help to ensure that all children in the county live in a safe environment."

The Centre County United Way, Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Centre County Youth Service Bureau and YMCA of Centre County have partnered to bring the program to county residents, with a goal of training 5,000 adults -- the “tipping” point that will ensure that every child in the county has contact with an adult who has received training to create and maintain a safe environment for our youth.

The Children's Advocacy Center, an idea originally fostered by Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford and others, will provide a centralized location for all of the necessary services for children who have been abused, including medical services, and will be operated by Mount Nittany Health in offices located in Bellefonte, Pa. The current process requires multiple interviews of the child with different people at different locations. It also requires the child to travel to receive specialized medical care and exams.

"These funds will further our efforts to protect our children and to minimize the trauma that children experience when they are victimized," Lunsford said. "I am grateful to President Erickson and the Penn State community for recognizing the importance of our endeavors and validating our cause."

"As a community, we must continue to look deeper into the issue of child maltreatment and abuse," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "We must commit to continuing to raise awareness, as well as fight these insidious crimes in whatever way possible."

Following its 2011 football season, Penn State formed a partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and committed $1.5 million from its share of that year's Big Ten bowl revenues to fund a variety of initiatives, including the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children.

Contacts: 
Last Updated July 23, 2013