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Why Phil Knight changed his opinion on Joe Paterno

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"I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade," he said in a statement issued through a spokesman.

The family's report concluded that observations related to Paterno in the Freeh report were unfounded, and were a disservice to Paterno, the university community and Sandusky's victims, "and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization."

The central claim that Paterno "was engaged in a conspiracy ... there's simply no basis anywhere in the report for that finding. That in my view renders the whole report of very little value," Thornburgh said in an interview with The Associated Press. "There's simply nothing in this record, in the Freeh report, that indicates he was involved in any way."

Freeh's findings also implicated former administrators in university President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz. Less than two weeks after the Freeh report was released in July, the NCAA acted with uncharacteristic speed in levying massive sanctions against the football program for the scandal.

"Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University – Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's childabuse," Freeh wrote in releasing the report.

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