STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – A potentially explosive report into whether football coach Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials took steps to conceal that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was a child molester will be released Thursday – online for all to see, officials said Tuesday.
Attorneys for the university’s deposed president, meanwhile, broke a monthslong silence and denied suggestions that Graham Spanier participated in a cover-up, with the image of Penn State and its powerful and lucrative football program at stake.
The internal report by former FBI chief Louis Freeh is expected to reveal how the university treated Sandusky, Paterno’s onetime heir apparent, after top administrators fielded complaints about his encounters with young boys more than a decade ago. It is also expected to cast light on how the Hall of Fame coach, who died in January, exerted control over the football program while Sandusky worked under him and after Sandusky retired from coaching.
And the report could influence how Paterno is remembered while affecting an ongoing NCAA probe into the school’s conduct and the criminal cases against two Penn State administrators.
Freeh’s spokesman said the report will be published online at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday. Investigators will hold a news conference an hour later in Philadelphia to discuss their findings and recommendations. The university trustees, who are meeting in Scranton, Pa., on Thursday, said they will respond shortly thereafter.
Paterno’s family said in a statement Tuesday that the late coach “did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.”
Paterno supported the decision by the board of trustees to hire Freeh to conduct a thorough investigation of the Sandusky allegations, but recent news leaks raised questions about fairness and confidentiality, the family said in the lengthy statement. They said the Freeh group turned down an offer for the family to respond to allegations after also asking to review the findings to prepare a response.
The winningest coach in major college football, Paterno never got a chance to speak to the Freeh group before he died of lung cancer Jan. 22 at age 85.
“It is our firm belief that the report would be stronger and more credible if we were simply given a chance to review the findings concerning Joe Paterno in order to present the case he was never allowed to make,” the family said.
Both Spanier, 63, and Paterno were ousted by school trustees a few days after Sandusky’s November arrest.