The NCAA announced a settlement in the Penn State lawsuit Friday, agreeing to restore 112 victories to Penn State and donate $60 million – the penalty the school paid as punishment for the Jerry Sandusky scandal – to activities and programs that help prevent child sexual abuse and treat its victims.
As a result of the settlement, Joe Paterno is once again the winningest coach in college football history. His victory total is back up to 409, placing him ahead of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (377).
So, what should our reaction to this settlement be?
“I think we’ve got to understand a couple things,” Jay Paterno said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The wins were won. Whether the NCAA took them away or not, that’s immaterial. Obviously we’re glad that the NCAA has admitted there was a rush to judgment as it related to Joe Paterno. This is obviously a victory in that regard.”
“But there still is a truth out there. There are still some cases that need to be settled, and Penn Staters still want the truth as to what happened and why certain things did happen. So yeah, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s positive. But there’s more to do.”
To be clear, the settlement did not in any way vindicate Joe Paterno. Jay Paterno, however, feels that day is coming.
“The NCAA has not admitted really that they did anything wrong here,” he said. “What they’re saying is, ‘Yeah, we’re giving you your wins back,’ but let’s just say this: It’s not a vindication. But I think it’s coming. Our litigation is going to go forward. We (will) get these people under oath. Joe Paterno reported this. In 2001, the truth of the matter was, he was not a mandatory reporter, so he did not even have to report this. That said, he did. And that said, he followed it to the full extent of the law, and the NCAA has yet to recognize that fact and recognize the fact that the incidents that were brought to people’s attention were reported outside the university. So we’re going to continue to pursue this because I think people need to understand why the NCAA’s allowed to operate this way.”
Indeed, for Jay Paterno, clearing his father’s name isn’t just about his father’s legacy or Penn State; it’s about holding the NCAA to a high standard.
“If you have something hanging out there, you certainly want the NCAA to have to follow their bylaws and go through an investigation the way they’re supposed to – and not be able to have a guy like Mark Emmert, who’s been proven to be dishonest in this entire thing, to act unilaterally and impose penalties,” Paterno said. “I think it’s more important for the future of college athletics that this continues to be pursued.”
Looking specifically at Joe Paterno, though, yes, he did issue a report in 2001. But did he follow up? Did he make sure that Sandusky was no longer in – or around – the program? Did he – or others – turn a blind eye to Sandusky and enable him to be a predator on or off campus or in State College?
That’s the part we still don’t have clarity about.
“I can give you some clarity on that,” Paterno said. “I can tell you right now there was not one victim that testified in a court of law that they were ever raped on Penn State’s campus. People have that misperception because of the way this Board of Trustees at Penn State handled this situation. They signed away guilt that, quite frankly, does not belong at Penn State. Did people turn a blind eye? Absolutely not. Mike McQueary reported something to Joe. Joe did not witness it. Joe did not know it to be true. Joe consulted university policy and directed Mike to the people he was supposed to direct him to.”
“Now people say he should have followed up,” Paterno continued, referring to his father. “The truth of the matter is, under law, you’re not allowed to follow up – even if you’re Joe Paterno. It does not matter. There’s an integrity to an investigation as sensitive as this. And if Joe Paterno had followed up by calling Jerry Sandusky or calling certain other people, that alerts the perpetrator that something’s up – in which case the perpetrator can destroy evidence or intimidate the victim to recant the story. So I think that’s an important point for people to understand.”