(Your) Penn State scandal cost at $237 million


penn-state-cartoonSo Sandusky’s son has been arrested on pedophilia charges. It’s curious how easy it is to get into these situations with underage girls…but you think this guy of all people would eschew just things. In addition, we should probably consider there’s an infrastructure here–how exactly does he find underage girls to do this to?

The sins of the son are not today’s concern: I reckon it’s time to tally up the damage at Penn State.

It’s been painful watching the Penn State scandal play out, drop by agonizing drop. From revelations of the huge coverup, to the fat reward the Poo Bah received for the coverup, to the defamation lawsuit payoff to the assistant coach for refusing to cover it up, to the complete reversals of the punishments meted out to Penn State, to the complete silence from accreditation for this grotesque violation of the accreditation policies (I can’t link to this last claim, because there’s no punishment by accreditation for me to document…).

After years of denials and court trials, we’re finally able to tally up a financial cost. How much?

Penn State child abuse scandal costing university over $237mn

Naturally, the article fails to point out a few things. Foremost, of course, is mention of who is paying that bill. That’s you and me. Don’t get me wrong, what was done to those children was horrific, but I just don’t understand why the people most responsible for it can’t pay.

Yes, Sandusky certainly bears responsibility, but there’s also the entire administrative staff at Penn State, who for over a decade simply refused to pay attention to complaints, even punished people that dared to say that maybe the sportsball team shouldn’t be used to protect a child molester.

These admin were paid very well for their silence. The Poo Bah, of course, is most outstanding, $2.3 million just for the last year of his service. I’m sure his money for over a decade of such service would add up to over $10 million, and he’s also being rewarded with an additional $600,000 a year for life, contingent upon him staying out of jail for the services he rendered. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give some of that back. He certainly hasn’t offered, which is a little strange under the circumstances, and there a half dozen, quite possibly more, admin who also had to have taken part in the coverup, and likely were paid in the low 7 figures as well.

Now we toss in the sportsball team, which supposedly exists because it’s a money-making enterprise. Why is donation of the revenue to pay back some of these costs not on the table? If sportsball is not a money-maker, why can’t we just shut down the team and save the taxpayers some money there while simultaneously destroying a public enterprise that only served to help cover up hideous crimes?

Why aren’t these questions being asked?

The article helpfully highlights some of the many costs:

The eye-watering tally is a combination of various fees, including the recent $12 million payout to former assistant coach Mike McQueary, who won a whistleblower and defamation case against the school after he testified against Sandusky in 2012.

I covered this before, but I want to highlight: Penn State didn’t do the defamation, actual human beings did, and did so as they were following the deep chain of command of associate deans, vice deans, deans, associate provosts, vice provosts, provosts, assistant vice presidents, and vice presidents at the school. Can’t some of these people pay a little for their crimes? Why is the system set up so that these guys get away free like this?

On top of that, the school settled out of court with 33 victims who allege they were molested by Sandusky, with a total payout of $93 million, as well as a $48 million fine from the NCAA.

There are 33 documented victims here. We’re really just going to accept that they randomly deposited themselves in the showers and then randomly were taken away by…what, robots with “Penn State” stamped on them? Really, nobody thinks there’s a question or two worth asking about this?

Adding to the tally is $27 million in defensive legal fees, nearly $14 million is down to the three former administrators currently facing charges for their failure to report the suspected abuse,

The reason why so few questions are being asked is because the answers are pretty scary. For example, here’s an obvious question: why is Penn State paying the legal fees for administrators that engaged in disgusting, vile crimes? Admin sure made it clear that if I screwed up in class, they would not have my back if I put so much as a coffee stain on a student’s shoe. But they sure are caring for each other here. Why would they do that?

The answer is obvious: because otherwise the administrators being charged might talk, and likely expose the entire network that, quite obviously, had to be involved in the coverup here.

Ooh, what a scary, albeit obvious, answer. Does that make it a good thing nobody else wants to ask these kinds of questions?

$5.3 million has been spent on “crisis communications and other consultants,” AP reports.

This is another delight that comes up so often when I cover university “scandals” (I feel the need to put the word in quotes because it strikes me as an understatement here). Not only does the taxpayer get to pay for all the legal penalties, the taxpayer actually gets to pay for the coverup. I assure the gentle reader, those crisis communications consultants aren’t hired to investigate what really happened and root out evil…they’re hired to spin, spin, spin away whatever the scandal abomination is.

Finally, the school was fined a record $2.4 million by federal investigators last November after a five-year probe uncovered evidence of noncompliance with campus safety law.

I know it’s dark humor, but yeah, what happened at Penn State had to have been in noncompliance with a safety law. Or two.

One final slap in the face of the average taxpayer:

Several insurance claims are pending, but so far insurers have covered $30 million of the university’s costs.

I have good insurance, and I’m a cancer survivor. Every doctor visit, I had to shell out money, every drug, more money…and I, like everyone else, had to fight to get the insurance company to honor some of their promised coverage. Same when I had a car accident…a real battle, and I had to fight for each dime. Same thing for dental work, despite my insurance, because they only cover what they think I should have been charged, and only a percentage of that (and trust me, when you start multiplying fractions together, the percentage getting paid gets small quickly).

I wonder how hard Penn State had to fight to get the insurance companies to actually honor their coverage? Probably a million or so man-hours of work, to judge by what it takes me based on my own experience with insurance companies. Those are administrative hours, so more millions indirectly spent.

Oh wait, there’s one more insult here that the article failed to notice. A look at Penn State’s history of tuition shows a tuition hike pretty much every year. But…these guys have $237 million to blow on the scandal.

Once again I have a question nobody else asks: why do other schools always raise tuition? We’re told every year our schools are broke, no money, gotta raise tuition.

Ok, Penn State can justify their increases because of the scandal, I guess, though that doesn’t explain why they needed hikes before the scandal. It’s a safe bet many other schools could have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars as well…but didn’t. And yet, tuition is rising at schools that don’t have to pay out a few hundred million due to a scandal of their own creation. Why is that?

Maybe I’m asking too many questions…



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