Penn State scandal: Awaiting more answers from Joe Paterno
On Tuesday, school officials -- after first saying Paterno would not discuss the allegations at his weekly football news conference -- abruptly announced that the coach would not hold the conference at all. A one-page statement cited "the ongoing legal circumstances."
Paterno told a group of reporters who spotted him as he got into his car: "I know you guys have a lot of questions. I was hoping I could answer them today. We’ll try to do it as soon as we can."
The cancellation did not sit well with Andrew Georgeson, a Penn State junior who has been camping out at the stadium since Monday night in a five-day effort to secure front-row tickets for Saturday’s game. Georgeson, 20, said he wanted to hear more from the coach -- something that would restore students’ faith in a coach they have long cherished and respected.
"Coach Paterno did things the way he always does -- strictly by the rule book," Georgeson said, referring to Paterno’s meeting the letter of the law, if not perhaps its full spirit, in reporting child sexual abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
"But now it looks like that maybe wasn’t the best option for him," Georgeson said.
Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting at least eight boys –- some of them in the football locker room showers -- over 15 years. Two top university officials have been accused of covering up at least one sexual abuse allegation. All maintain their innocence.
Other students said that, although Paterno should have gone to the police, the coach might have been a victim of school officials he assumed would handle the problem.
"I’d like to think he did all he could do, but unfortunately they [school officials] decided to just cover the whole thing up,’’ said Patricia Casey, a Penn State senior.
The blogosphere carried far harsher assessments from students and alumni, with many writing to local newspapers or on Twitter that they were ashamed to be associated with once-venerable Penn State.
"Fire Graham Spanier -- fire him out of a cannon," said one post on a "Fire Graham Spanier" page on Facebook. "Get rid of them all -– disgusting pigs," said another.
Jim Lettau, a Penn State senior who was supporting a month-long "Occupy Penn State" protest at the student union, compared the university’s handling of the scandal to the Catholic Church’s attempts to cover up years of sexual abuse of children by priests.
-- David Zucchino in State College, Pa.
Photo: Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno enters a car after leaving his home to attend practice in State College, Pa., on Tuesday. Credit: Pat Little/Reuters