Paterno: ‘I didn’t know exactly how to handle it’

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In the weeks since the still-stunning dismissal was made official, supporters and detractors alike have been clamoring for deposed head coach Joe Paterno to give his side of the story, to begin to explain why he took the tack he did when he was first made aware of one of his trusted former assistants allegedly sodomizing a boy in football building shower.

For the first time since being fired Nov. 9, the legendary head coach has done just that.  Somewhat.  Sorta.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with the Washington Post‘s Sally Jenkins, Paterno, with his attorney in the room, addressed a wide range of issues and questions, from the aftermath of his ouster to his treatment for lung cancer to, yes, Jerry Sandusky.

The central question, though, the one that nearly everyone has on their mind, is a simple one: why?  Why did Paterno, after turning over information he had received from a grad assistant —  Mike McQueary, the Nittany Lions quarterbacks coach who has been a central figure in the case against Sandusky — that Sandusky was naked in a shower with a 10-year-old boy in 2002, do the bare minimum as legally required by law?  Why did Paterno, the most powerful man at Penn State University regardless of title, not follow-up after handing the information over to his athletic director and president?

Nine years later, it appears Paterno is still struggling to answer those questions in his own head.

“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he said. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

Paterno went on to at least attempt to further explain to Jenkins why he didn’t pursue the matter further after handing over McQueary and his information to athletic director Tim Curley and another high-ranking university official.

Paterno’s portrait of himself is of an old-world man profoundly confused by what McQueary told him, and who was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he did not want to be seen as trying to exert any influence for or against Sandusky. “I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake . . .”

He reiterated that McQueary was unclear with him about the nature of what he saw — and added that even if McQueary had been more graphic, he’s not sure he would have comprehended it.

“You know, he didn’t want to get specific,” Paterno said. “And to be frank with you I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it.”

Paterno also hit on other topics…

  • On his firing: “Whether it’s fair I don’t know, but they do it. You would think I ran the show here.”  That statement comes courtesy of a man who, legend has it, chased Curley and then-president Graham Spanier out of his house several years ago when the two came to fire him.  he was not fired.
  • On how Sandusky was allowed to engage in his alleged deviant acts with young boys while going undetected: “I wish I knew. I don’t know the answer to that. It’s hard.”  The premise of the question is absurd, of course, as several high-ranking members of the university were made aware of allegations involving Sandusky dating as far back as 1998.
  • Paterno and his wife were in their nightclothes getting ready for bed on the night of Nov. 9 when there was a knock on the door.  On the other side of the door was a university employee bearing a piece of paper and a name on it.  Paterno dialed the number and the voice on the other end, vice trustees chairman John Surma, telling him “[i]n the best interests of the university, you are terminated.”  Paterno’s irate wife Sue called the number back. “After 61 years he deserved better. He deserved better.”
  • On why he waited until this interview, which was conducted Thursday and Friday, to speak out publicly: “I wanted everybody to settle down.”
  • Paterno said he had “no inkling” that Sandusky might be a pedophile, and described their relationship as “professional, not social” due to the fact that his former assistant “was a lot younger than me.”
  • Paterno said he told Sandusky that he couldn’t spend the time with his children’s charity — The Second Mile, which he allegedly used as a “recruiting ground” for victims — if he wanted to also become a head coach.  Paterno maintained that Sandusky retired in 1998 after being told he would not become Paterno’s successor at Penn State.  Sandusky was urged by Paterno to take the 30-year retirement package being offered by the school.
  • Paterno claims he was unaware of an incident in 1998 in which Sandusky allegedly molested a boy in a shower.  Curley as well as police were aware of the incident, and it was investigated before it was decided charges would not be pursued.  “You know it wasn’t like it was something everybody in the building knew about,” Paterno said of the 1998 incident. “Nobody knew about it.”
  • Paterno would not pass judgment on Sandusky’s guilt or innocence. “I think we got to wait and see what happens. The courts are taking care of it, the legal system is taking care of it.” If Sandusky is found guilty?  “I’m sick about it.”

Other than being his first post-firing interview, Jenkins’ exceptionally written piece did not, as somewhat expected, plow much new ground.  Perhaps the most fascinating — and sad on multiple levels — aspect of the interview was the conversation turning to the victims of Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse and Paterno and his wife personalizing it into what their reactions would’ve been if it had involved a member of their own family.

The Paternos say they think about the real potential victims every time they look at their own children. “I got three boys and two girls,” Paterno said. “It’s sickening.” His knee-jerk response is to go back to Flatbush. “Violence is not the way to handle it,” he said. “But for me, I’d get a bunch of guys and say let’s go punch somebody in the nose.” Sue Paterno is more blunt. “If someone touched my child, there wouldn’t be a trial, I would have killed them,” she said. “That would be my attitude, because you have destroyed someone for life.”

In other words, if Paterno had received the same information he did in 2002, but “10-year-old boy” was replaced with “great-grandson”, jeopardizing university procedures would have been the last thing on the former coach’s mind and someone would have paid for whatever happened in that on-campus shower.  Instead, the bare minimum was done for somebody’s else’s child.

It has been stated multiple times in the past couple of months that Paterno has been wanting to get his side of the story out, that he wanted to address the situation in his own words.  To some degree, he did just that, although if someone were a supporter or a detractor coming in, that’s likely where they still stand upon finishing the interview.

For me, it merely served as yet another reminder of how sad and disturbing and disgusting this whole sordid situation remains.  And how it could’ve been stopped in 2002, sparing several innocent victims from the actions of an alleged pedophile.

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Arkansas early enrollee arrested on DUI charges

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Arkansas early enrollee Mike Woods was arrested Friday night on suspicion of DUI, minor in possession of alcohol and, crucially, improper turn/U-turn. The Washington County booking report says he was released on Saturday afternoon but due back for a hearing on Monday morning.

Hogs head coach Chad Morris released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving Mike Woods and are gathering information from the proper authorities. We will make a determination regarding his status once we have reviewed all of the information.”

A consensus 3-star recruit out of Magnolia, Texas, in the Houston area, Woods originally committed to SMU but followed Morris and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp to Arkansas.

Bill Snyder honored by Missouri Western with pavilion at football stadium

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Bill Snyder traveled to his hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., on Thursday, as Missouri Western State University christened a pavilion at its football stadium as the Bill Snyder Pavilion.

The pavilion was donated by Steven L. Craig, who already serves as the namesake for Division II Missouri Western’s football stadium and its business school. But for the new pavilion of Craig Field that holds two levels of hospitality space, Craig and the school elected to honor one of St. Joseph’s most famous residents and a former Missouri Western student. With the honor, Snyder became the rare (only?) person to have his name on two separate football stadiums; Kansas State plays in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

After graduating high school from St. Joseph’s Lafayette High School, Snyder originally enrolled at Mizzou, where he discovered the major university life was not for him. “I did extremely poorly,” Snyder told the Kansas City Star. “I was out of my element. My mother had saved all of her life to send me to college, and I was wasting her money.”

He returned home to enroll at Missouri Western, then known as Missouri Western Junior College, where he played on the basketball team. He then transferred to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where he played quarterback and defensive back before graduating in 1962. Outside a brief stint as a graduate assistant on John McKay‘s USC staff, Snyder spent the first decade of his coaching career at the high school ranks in Missouri and California. He landed a job in 1974 as the offensive coordinator at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and two seasons there led to a job on Hayden Fry‘s staff at North Texas in 1976. Snyder followed Fry to Iowa, and nine successful seasons as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach granted him the Kansas State head job, where he has authored the greatest turnaround in major college football history.

Snyder, who will turn 79 the day after Kansas State visits Baylor on Oct. 6, is 210-110-1 as K-State’s head coach. He led the Wildcats to four straight 11-win seasons from 1997-00, a Big 12 championship in 2003 and, after a 3-year retirement, returned to lead the Wildcats to their first No. 1 ranking and a second Big 12 championship in 2012. Despite spending much of the off-season battling throat cancer, Snyder led Kansas State to an 8-5 record with a Cactus Bowl win over UCLA in 2017.

“St. Joseph will always have a special place in my heart,” Snyder said Thursday. “Missouri Western likewise.”

Snyder will open his 27th season as K-State’s head coach on Sept. 1 as the Wildcats host South Dakota.

 

Former Miami, Purdue QB Robert Marve arrested on domestic battery charges

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Former Miami and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve turned himself in to Hillsborough County, Fla., authorities on Friday morning after his girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in their Key West hotel room. He was booked on felony battery/domestic battery by strangulation charges and released an hour later on $50,000 bond.

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

(Marve’s girlfriend Channing) Tomes told the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office that Marve “lost control” after seeing messages on her phone. He then began hitting her face, chest, arms and legs, and stomped on her throat, according to the warrant.

“I am beyond relieved to know he is finally exposed as the monster he truly is,” Tomes said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “I am so thankful for everyone who has worked tirelessly on this case, as well as other victims.”

Tomes also accused Marve of biting her on the lip, striking her face, knocking her unconscious and sexually assaulting her back in May.

“I do not care if I am the face of this case or if my sexual life, job or school is exposed in this process. My ultimate goal was to see that he never hurt another woman again and stand up for past victims who were too scared to come forward. Rape and domestic violence is never okay,” Tomes told the Times. “I have found that the only ‘safe word’ with Robert Marve is ‘911.’ ”

Marve led powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa to a Class 4A state championship in 2006 and signed with Miami in February 2007 as Rivals‘s No. 8 pro-style quarterback of that year. He later transferred to Purdue and needed six years to complete his college career, a season that was ended prematurely after a second ACL tear. He had a cup of coffee with his hometown Bucs and a brief career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL before retiring in 2015.

Marve currently lives in Tampa and works as the athletic director at the Tampa Sports Academy training facility, according to jail records, in addition to coaching Plant’s quarterbacks.

Michigan State to reportedly remove interim tag from AD Bill Beekman on Monday

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Michigan State is set to name interim AD Bill Beekman to the job on a permanent status on Monday, according to reports from the Detroit Free Press and ESPN.

The move brings a bit of stability to the university as the Larry Nassar saga continues to embroil the highest level of MSU leadership in controversy. Though its highest-profile employees, football coach Mark Dantonio and men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo, remain in their posts, AD Mark Hollis retired in late January as ESPN dug into the athletics department’s (lack of) response to sexual harassment within its ranks. MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned two days before Hollis, but that may be the least of her problems stemming from the Nassar saga.

As for Beekman, he is a near-MSU lifer who has experience across university leadership but, prior to his appointment as interim AD five months ago, none in athletics. He was hired as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam, per the Free Press, and has since risen to assistant dean of finance and planning for MSU’s school of medicine, executive director of the MSU alumni association, vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees, and he was even briefly named MSU’s interim president after Simon’s resignation.

He was appointed to the full-time AD position by interim president John Engler. Michigan State’s board are currently in search of a full-time president, but that person will not be in place until the end of the upcoming academic year.

Given all that ongoing upheaval, it will be interesting to see the contract Michigan State’s interim president hands to its now full-time AD with no prior athletics experience.