Paterno Gone, But Questions At Penn State Remain
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The most tumultuous week Penn State has ever endured is drawing to a close.
Questions, however, still linger.
Gov. Tom Corbett will be on hand Friday to help the board of trustees navigate a course through the turmoil from a child sex-abuse scandal that has engulfed the state’s largest university and led to the firing of the university’s legendary coach Joe Paterno.
Corbett, an ex-officio member of the board, will participate in Friday’s regularly scheduled trustees meeting, where a committee will be appointed to investigate the “circumstances” that led to the indictments of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, as well as two university officials. It’s the first time the board has met publicly since forcing out Paterno and president Graham Spanier amid the unfolding child sex abuse scandal.
Paterno and Spanier were fired Wednesday night, four days after a grand jury report charged Sandusky with a series of sexual assaults stretching back to the late 1990s.
The grand jury report alleges Sandusky assaulted eight boys — including one he allegedly raped in the university’s football facility shower. Much of the alleged inappropriate contact with seven victims happened on Penn State’s campus, where Sandusky maintained an office as an emeritus professor following his retirement.
Authorities said Sandusky met many of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth he founded in 1977.
The indictment also charged the school’s athletic director and a vice president with perjury and failure to report the assaults.
“Certainly every Pennsylvanian who has any knowledge of this case, who has read the grand jury report, feels a sense of regret and a sorrow to also see careers end,” Corbett said after arriving on campus Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Tom Bradley was introduced as interim head coach, marking the first time in almost a half-century the Nittany Lions have been guided by anyone other than Paterno.
“We’re obviously in a very unprecedented situation,” said Bradley, who was Paterno’s lead assistant for the last 11 seasons. “I have to find a way to restore the confidence.”
The committee has no timetable.
And no shortage of questions to answer — from how much Paterno actually knew to the future of his staff, including assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told Paterno but not police about seeing Sandusky in a shower with a young boy in 2002.
McQueary, now the team’s wide receivers coach, won’t be present for the final home game of the season Saturday against Nebraska because of what the university said were “multiple threats.”
“We intend to be as responsible as we can and make whatever changes are necessary,” board vice chair John Surma said.
Sandusky, Paterno’s onetime heir apparent, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years. Athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failure to report the 2002 assault to police, as required by state law.
All three maintain their innocence.
Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, having fulfilled his legal requirement by reporting what McQueary told him to Curley and Schultz. But the state police commissioner called Paterno’s failure to contact police or follow up on the incident a lapse in “moral responsibility.”
Paterno has acknowledged that he should have done more but has not said why he didn’t go to the police, nor has he said whether he was aware of any earlier alleged assaults. Aside from a few brief comments outside his house and two statements, Paterno has not spoken publicly since Sandusky was indicted.
McQueary told the grand jury that he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy of about 10 in the showers at the Penn State football building in March 2002.
McQueary later told Paterno, Curley and Schultz, although it is not clear how detailed his description was. Schultz, in turn, notified Spanier.
Curley and Schultz — as well as Paterno — testified that they were told that Sandusky behaved inappropriately in that 2002 incident, but not to the extent of McQueary’s graphic account to the grand jury.
McQueary has not spoken publicly. His mother, Anne, said Thursday they have been advised not to comment.
Then 28, McQueary was “distraught” after witnessing the alleged 2002 assault, according to the indictment. Yet it appears he may have continued to participate in fundraising events with Sandusky — including one held less than a month later.
Sandusky was a coach at a March 28, 2002, flag-football fundraiser for the Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania, and McQueary and other Penn State staff members participated by either playing or signing autographs, according to a “Letter of special thanks” published in the Centre Daily Times.
The paper also reported that McQueary was scheduled to play in The Second Mile Celebrity Golf Classic in 2002 and 2003. The Second Mile is the charity Sandusky founded to provide education and life skills to almost 100,000 at-risk kids each year.
And in 2004, the Centre Daily Times reported that McQueary played in the third annual Subway Easter Bowl Game, an Easter Seals fundraiser that was jointly coached by Sandusky.
Sandusky, a former Penn State player and assistant for 30 years, including 22 as defensive coordinator, had long been considered the likely successor to Paterno. But Paterno told Sandusky around May 1999 that he wouldn’t get the top job.
According to the indictment, one of the alleged victims testified that Sandusky was “emotionally upset” after that meeting with Paterno, and Sandusky announced his retirement the next month.
Sandusky said he wanted to spend more time with The Second Mile, as well as taking advantage of a generous retirement package that included continued use of an office and access to the school’s athletic facilities. Several of the alleged assaults took place on Penn State property.
Sandusky was just 55 when he retired with a sparkling resume. He stepped off college football’s fast track when he would have been considered a top candidate for vacancies at any big-time program.
Bradley spent most of his career at Penn State as a defensive assistant and succeeded Sandusky as defensive coordinator.
Penn State has said Bradley will be interim coach for the rest of the season. It has not said if he will be a candidate for the permanent job, nor has it given any timetable for hiring a new coach.
It’s not even clear who will do the hiring, with Curley on leave and provost Rodney Erickson serving as interim school president.