Penn State Makes Good on Payment to Sandusky Victims, but Money Isn't Everything

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IOctober 29, 2013

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 12:  Devin Gardner #98 of the Michigan Wolverines under center against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game on October 12, 2013 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

On Monday, Penn State announced it will be paying 26 victims of former coach Jerry Sandusky a total of $59.7 million in individual settlement agreements

It marked an important public milestone on a long journey of healing.

But money isn't everything, and Penn State president Rodney Erickson recognized that in a statement released on Monday (h/t to 

"We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State," said Erickson.

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For Penn State, the money isn't just about moving on, it's also an attempt to regain public trust lost in the Sandusky debacle. Settling these cases without a trial was a good start.

The university's new leadership has taken steps in the right direction and the NCAA agrees, announcing this past month that it was reducing some of the sanctions it had imposed.

Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell told a new conference that Penn State wasn't just giving lip service to doing the right thing, according to the Centre Daily Times

While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program. The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh report recommendations and its obligations to the athletics integrity agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.

But the real test will come when the NCAA sanctions have been lifted and the spotlight shines elsewhere. It will be on the new administration and athletics department to remain vigilant, even without fear of the NCAA stepping in.

The early returns show Penn State's leadership is not just about words, but actions, too.

As long as its sees this process through, Penn State could be on its way to restoring its good name, and that's priceless.

*Andy Coppens is the lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.