We so want this story to go away and yet it won’t. The Paterno family won’t let it die without fighting with seemingly every last breath to clear their patriarch’s name.
In a letter dated August 3, 2012 the Paterno’s lawyer notified the NCAA:
On behalf of my clients, the Paterno family, who are living representatives of Joseph V. Paterno and his estate, we file this notice of intent to appeal the NCAA’s consent decree entered against the Pennsylvania State University.
Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, the Paterno family notes that the consent decree was publicly released on July 23, 2012. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaws 32.1.5 and 184.108.40.206 Mr. Paterno qualifies as an involved individual because he is named in the NCAA’s consent decree and in the Freeh Report, which provided the factual basis for the consent decree.
Finally, pursuant to the NCAA Bylaw 32.10.1, or any other source of authority the NCAA claims to have invoked to impose these sanctions, the Paterno Family requests the opportunity to submit its appeal in writing, and requests an in-person oral argument before the Infractions Appeals Committee, the Executive Committee, the Division I Board of Directors, and/or other appropriate audience within the NCAA.
It sure seems on the surface that the family has no standing with the NCAA, thus making this demand a moot point. But then again, many felt the NCAA had no jurisdiction to punish Penn State. The Paterno family agrees with that considering the wording in the letter talking about whatever source of authority the NCAA “claims to have invoked” to impose these sanctions.
Reuters reported that the NCAA has already denied the Paterno’s request. “Penn State’s sanctions are not subject to appeal,” said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams.
From the minute the Freeh Report was released, the Paterno family discredited it. This from the letter to the NCAA, “The Freeh Report, on which these extraordinary penalties are based, is deeply flawed because it is incomplete, rife with unsupported opinions and unquestionably one-sided.”
It’s true that the Freeh Report is “incomplete.” They didn’t have subpoena power so they never did talk to the main players in the story. But while the report might not have all of the information, it doesn’t change the validity of the information that was gathered.
There were 430 interviews conducted and 3.5 million documents examined. The Paterno Family claims that the Freeh Report is out of context without the other testimony and more documents.
Their opinion is quite clear: “To severely punish a University and its community and to condemn a great educator, philanthropist and coach without any public review or hearing is unfair on its face and a violation of NCAA guidelines.”
The Paternos strongly believe in Joe’s innocence and that’s understandable. It must haunt them to have the statue taken down and the 111 wins vacated, dropping their husband, father and grandfather from the top of the list of winningest coaches.
There are essentially three incidents that indict Paterno. Let’s examine.
This first incident demonstrates the control wielded by Paterno over anything that involved the football program. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on an April of 2007 off-campus fight involving many Penn State football players. An email sent by Paterno to University officials: “I want to make sure everyone understands that the discipline of the players involved will be handled by me as soon as I am comfortable that I know all of the facts.”
Paterno supporters will say that’s a coach on top of the situation and wanting to make sure his players are properly punished. However, vice president of student affairs Vicky Triponey’s response puts it in a different light. “Thanks for sharing. I assume he is talking about discipline relative to TEAM rules," said Triponey. "Obviously discipline relative to the law is up to the police and the courts and discipline relative to violations of the student code of conduct is the responsibility of Judicial Affairs.”
Now the critical part.
“This has not always been clear with Coach Paterno so we might want to clarify that and encourage him to work with us to find the truth and handle this collaboratively with the police and the university. The challenge here is that the letter suggests that football should handle this and now Coach Paterno is also saying THEY will handle this and makes it look like the normal channels will be ignored for football players.”
Patero’s email looks a bit differently now, doesn’t it?
When the Grand Jury met in January of 2011 to begin the Sandusky investigation, Paterno testified that he had no knowledge of the 1998 allegation of sexual abuse against Sandusky. Yet the Freeh report found an email from athletic director Tim Curley to Penn State vice president Gary Schultz dated May 13, 1998.
The subject was “Jerry.” The text: “Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands.”
Are the Paterno supporters really going to claim “Coach” isn’t Joe? Or that the topic was anything other than the allegation against Sandusky?
The Freeh report also found an email from Curley to Schultz and President Graham Spanier dated February 27, 2001 that said after much thought and “talking with Joe” he had changed his mind about reporting what Mike McQuery had seen in the shower to the Department of Public Welfare.
Yet the Paterno family and supporters still claim there is no evidence that Joe knew about anything what had gone on and wasn’t involved in any cover up?
For that to be true then Tim Curley, a former player under Paterno, set him up? Vicky Triponey was just out to make him look bad?
How does the fact that the principles involved weren’t interviewed change the written documentation? How else could those documents be taken?
I understand the Paterno's desire to maintain the image of their loved one they have always had. But there’s much more at stake here.
For the sake of the children so heinously abused, it’s time for the healing to quietly start.
Follow me on Twitter@sprtsramblngman