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Penn State Donating Would-Be Bowl Revenue Toward Children's Causes

by on July 23, 2013 8:01 PM

Penn State and 11 other Big Ten schools each have been given a portion of what would have been Penn State's football bowl revenue from the 2012-13 season to donate to "child-focused" causes of their choosing.

Penn State chose the Centre County United Way as its beneficiary. The money will be split – $94,172 each – between the Stewards of Children program and the Children's Advocacy Center.

Officials in the Big Ten are giving $188,344 to each university to donate to a local organization of their choice, so long as that charity's 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. That's a total of nearly $2.3 million, had the Nittany Lions been allowed to play in a bowl game, according to Penn State. Bill O'Brien led his team to an 8-4 season in 2012-13.

Penn State was banned from postseason play for four years when it entered into a consent decree with the NCAA and The Big Ten in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Penn State was penalized on July 23, 2012. Other sanctions include a $60 million fine, which will to toward victims of sexual abuse, a significant loss in football scholarships and all wins vacated under former football coach Joe Paterno between 1998-2011.

Stewards of Children is an awareness program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse and is desigend for organizations that serve children and for individuals who are focused on youth safety. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence-based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors, Penn State says. 

"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 five percent of all residents," says 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. It's an effort to ensure that every child in the county has contact with an adult who is trained to create and maintain a safe environment for children.

The Children's Advocacy Center, an idea that came from Centre County District Judge Bradley P. Lunsford, among 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, which are located in Bellefonte. 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 says. "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," says 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.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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