An incomparable career narrative that spanned more than six decades now reads like one of the Greek tragedies the late Joe Paterno always loved: Paterno’s legacy has been irreparably stained by findings that the iconic Penn State football coach concealed information for years that could have stopped a sexual predator.
The conclusions of former FBI director Louis Freeh, who drew on more than 400 interviews and 3 million documents over a nearly eight-month independent investigation of Penn State’s sexual assault scandal as requested by the school, have complicated and sullied the image of major-college football’s all-time winningest coach. Freeh found that Paterno was among five Penn State senior leaders who covered up information to avoid bad publicity after they became aware of sexual molestation allegations against Paterno’s former longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted last month of 45 counts of sexual abuse. Freeh said Paterno could have stopped the sexual abuses “if he wished.”
“The facts are the facts,” Freeh said of Paterno. “He was an integral part of the act to conceal.”
Within hours of Thursday morning’s release of the 267-page report, Nike moved to remove Paterno’s name from the child development center on Nike Campus in Beaverton, Ore. Nike’s endorsement deal with Paterno had been longer than with any college coach at the time Paterno died in January at 85.