"The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children," said Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee.
That was the message hammered down by NCAA as it unleashed sanctions against the Penn State football program. Of them, the program must pay out up to $60 million to establish an endowment to help sexual abuse victims across the nation. The funds must be used for programs that prevent abuse and assist victims, and the program can not exist on campus. The NCAA says $60 million is the equivalent to the average annual revenue of the Penn State football program.
The decision is already being felt in central Illinois.
"I think any victim of sexual assault has to read into that saying, I'm not alone. There's a society, a community that cares about the situation. And they want to make sure that I am safe," said Martha Herm, executive director of Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria.
No one knows where the money will end up, but Herm said it's cash that she'd be happy to use. The Center for Prevention of Abuse focuses on prevention and intervention services for abuse cases. Recently, it lost ten percent of its state funding, and now has more work than it can possibly afford. Often, Herms said the facility sometimes can't fill vacant positions and the funds are needed for additional therapists.
"We see five hundred sexual assault case victims every year, and a third of those are small children. A third are small children," Herm said.
According to Herm, one of three girls, and six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the nation. One survivor thinks the NCAA's decision can go a long way in preventing more of those cases.
"It doesn't change the fact of what happened, but it does help those of us who have been victims," said Teresa, who for privacy concerns asked her last name not be used.
Teresa was abused by her adoptive parents as a child. Similar to the allegations at Penn State, she said her teachers wouldn't report anything due to fear of losing their jobs. It wasn't until 2007,when she first visited the Center for Prevention of Abuse, that she began to heal.
"I couldn't look anybody in the eye. I was unable to be in crowds, hardly spoke. And this place has encouraged me. They empowered me. They've given me a voice, where before I was invisible," she said.
That's why she knows what that $60 million can do. It's only a start, but all healing has to start somewhere.
"It doesn't change the hurt. It doesn't change the anger that they're going to deal with, and the confusion. But places like this will help get them back on track where they can be healthy emotionally and physically," she said.
Regardless if the funds ever reach Central Illinois, Herm believes the NCAA's message is worth more than any amount out of the university's budget.