Freeh report's findings on Paterno sadden Penn State community

LaVar Arrington: "I'm disappointed in [Joe Paterno's] lapse in judgment." GENE J. PUSKAR / AP
LaVar Arrington: "I'm disappointed in [Joe Paterno's] lapse in judgment." GENE J. PUSKAR / AP
Posted: July 14, 2012

In the view of LaVar Arrington, an outspoken former Penn State linebacker and currently a sports talk-show host in Washington, the former university president, vice president, and athletic director are "punks" for their role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

As for his former coach, Joe Paterno, who joined the three officials in concealing important information regarding Sandusky's behavior according to a special committee chaired by former FBI director Louis Freeh, Arrington was not as harsh but still critical.

"I'm disappointed in his lapse in judgment," Arrington said Thursday on his radio show. "It's a major disappointment."

The Freeh report sent shock waves throughout Nittany Nation, particularly from people associated with the football team that was coached by Paterno for 46 seasons. Freeh said Paterno was "an integral part of this active decision to conceal" information from authorities in order to "avoid the consequences of bad publicity."

The report even shocked Phil Knight, the chairman of Nike, who lavished praise on Paterno at the coach's memorial service in January and brought the crowd to its feet when he said, "If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno."

On Thursday, Knight said: "It appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains."

In addition, Nike president and CEO Mark Parker announced he is removing Paterno's name from the child-care center at its world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

Bill O'Brien, who succeeded Paterno as head coach on Jan. 6, said in a statement he was reading the report and committee recommendations "to identify what changes can and should be made.

"I stand with the university leadership in a shared commitment to driving a culture of honesty, integrity, responsible leadership, and accountability at all levels and within all units of our institution," he said. "We can and we must do better."

Acting athletic director Dave Joyner also issued a statement that said the report showed "we must do everything within our capacity to restore trust in Penn State and the athletic department will play a central and leading role in that process."

The report was examined closely by the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference as both organizations continue their individual probes of a situation that is unprecedented in college athletics.

The NCAA said it needs answers to "four key questions concerning compliance with institutional control and ethics polices, to which it now needs to respond," said Bob Williams, the association's vice president of communications, in a statement.

As for the Big Ten, commissioner Jim Delany said the conference will continue "a prudent, thoughtful, and patient review" of the case.

Arrington said that three former university officials - president Graham B. Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz, and athletic director Tim Curley - lacked the leadership qualities necessary to run the institution and relied on Paterno for key decisions because "he always seems to have the right answers."

"By being afraid of what may come from the decisions that you make, you actually showed how much of a punk you are," he said. "You're not a leader. You're a punk.

"They're saying Joe neglected the victims. He was trying to find an answer for every single question that came his way. He shouldn't have had to do it, but he had to try to put everything together. Unfortunately, and it pains me to say this, he failed in doing that."

Another former player, Matt Millen, called the findings regarding Paterno "tough to take."

"You can't discount all the good that he's done," he said on ESPN. "I think the biggest thing is to get a little perspective because he's still a man, he has flaws, and this was one of them. This decision was a major flaw. That's a bad decision. It's obvious."

Bill Earley, a former longtime Penn State booster from Merion Station, called the report "even worse than I expected."

"I don't think we can recover," he said. "This is so devastating, like the Black Sox scandal. People are never going to forget this."


Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.

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