Penn State University, which accepted an invitation for its football team to play in the TicketCity Bowl, said it will donate its postseason revenue from the sport to groups seeking to protect children from sexual abuse.
Penn State will face the University of Houston in the Jan. 2 game at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
The Nittany Lions had a 9-3 record this season, losing two of their final three games after Joe Paterno was fired as coach in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky. School officials had previously said Penn State would play in a bowl game because the players had nothing to do with the scandal.
“As Penn State continues to move forward from recent events we are committed to help break the silence that surrounds child sexual abuse and lead to better protection of our children,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement on the school’s website.
Erickson said revenue received from the Big Ten Conference’s bowl payout will be used to support the school’s recent partnerships with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as well as other related initiatives.
Penn State is among a record 10 Big Ten schools invited to postseason bowls, with two teams headed to Bowl Championship Series games. The University of Wisconsin plays Oregon in the Rose Bowl and the University of Michigan meets Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. The Big Ten received $27.2 million from the BCS to distribute to its member schools last season after having two schools in BCS games, the SportsBusiness Journal said.
Return to Dallas
Penn State will be playing in Dallas for the first time since the 1975 Cotton Bowl, and the Nittany Lions’ opponent is a Houston team that was 12-0 before losing the Conference USA championship game 49-23 to Southern Mississippi. Led by quarterback Case Keenum, Houston’s offense was No. 1 in the nation with 444 passing yards a game this season.
“The opportunity to play in the TicketCity Bowl is fitting acknowledgment of the hard work, dedication and perseverance our student-athletes have exhibited during this especially challenging season,” interim coach Tom Bradley said in a statement.
Penn State will be making its 44th bowl appearance and its 27th postseason victories are third all-time.
Sandusky, 67, was charged with 40 counts of molesting eight boys in a period from 1994 to 2009. He has denied wrongdoing.
Paterno, 84, who won a record 409 games as Penn State’s coach, was fired and Graham B. Spanier, 63, was removed as the university’s president by the Board of Trustees for inaction after word of possible assaults became known in 2002.
Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report the allegations. They have denied the charges.