Penn State University is considering a loan to its athletic department in an effort to pay the $60 million fine imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its role ignoring past sexual abuse of young boys, according to Penn State President Rodney Erickson.
“And in all likelihood the university will have to extend the athletic department a long-term loan that they can pay back as they get on their feet, and as we adjust their budget going forward in the football program,” Erickson said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
He also said that the university would dip into the athletic department’s reserve fund along with a long term loan from the school itself.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with the unprecedented $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.
The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and longtime football Coach Joe Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, his former assistant coach.
The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds. Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season. The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students, he said.
In addition to the fines, the university will likely face multiple lawsuits from abuse victims. Erickson said Penn State is properly insured for liability but is not looking for a long drawn-out fight in court.
“We hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible. We don’t want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation,” he said.
Penn State faces significant financial challenges in the years to come. The university already has about $1 billion in debt and risks a downgrade to its creditworthiness, according to a report put out by Moody’s Analytic last year.
Unrelated to the university’s money problem, Erickson also issued an on-screen apology for the school for the first time.
“We’re deeply sorry and sad, regretful that this happened at our university. We want to do the right thing. We want to help them in their healing process,” he said.