- "This is not a football scandal," Paterno writes in the letter
- It was intended to be published as a guest editorial, his family says
- Paterno was fired amid the sex scandal involving his former assistant coach
- He died in January
Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno wrote a letter before his death saying the sex abuse scandal involving his assistant coach was "not a football scandal."
His family authenticated the letter, written late last year, after it emerged Wednesday.
"This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one," wrote Paterno, who died in January. "It is not an academic scandal and does not in any way tarnish the hard-earned and well-deserved academic reputation of Penn State."
Family spokeswoman Mara Vandlik said the letter was intended to be published as a guest editorial, but that never happened, and it was probably released by one of the former players who had received a copy.
Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted last month for sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.
Paterno and former Penn State President Graham Spanier were fired after the Sandusky scandal broke in November.
The findings of an internal review into the sex scandal are scheduled to be released Thursday. The lengthy report is expected to focus on school officials, what they knew about Sandusky's behavior and whether they tried to cover it up.
The internal review is separate from criminal investigations that have resulted in Sandusky's conviction, and charges of perjury and failing to report abuse against former athletic director Tim Curley and former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office is investigating what the university knew about a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in a university shower, which was reported by then-Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary.
The scandal has shaken the university and the nation, and has raised questions about Penn State's response to the allegations. Some claim the school put its reputation ahead of protecting potential child victims.