Paterno defended football, Penn State in letter before his death

Paterno's role in Sandusky case examined

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Paterno's role in Sandusky case examined 04:16

Story highlights

  • "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."

Read the full text of the letter

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."

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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.

Paterno's family discuss his final days

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Community grieves Paterno's passing

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Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted last month for sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.

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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.

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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.

Review into Penn State's handling of Sandusky released

      Scandal at Penn State

    • The family of Joe Paterno plans to file a lawsuit Thursday against the NCAA seeking to overturn its sanctions against Penn State University over a child sex abuse scandal.
    • Penn State students work on a banner at "Nittanyville" outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania, on Friday.

      In many ways, football is life at Penn State, a tradition synonymous with the campus. Nittany Lion fans are deeply religious about their football. Now, they begin a new era.
    • The site sits empty on Sunday where the Paterno statue once stood.

      It's an old, old story. We've all placed people on pedestals, and then, almost inevitably, they let us down. They violate our trust. They betray us. They fall off the pedestal, or we remove them.
    • BTS.Emmert.Penn State Sanctions_00002615

      The NCAA announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University and stripped 14 seasons of football victories from the late head coach Joe Paterno.
    • STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions look on before facing the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium on October 23, 2004 in State College, Pennsylvania.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 6-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

      The most powerful former leaders at Penn State University have been accused of showing "total and consistent disregard" for child sex abuse victims.
    • With the same decision announced on count after count -- guilty, guilty, guilty -- Jerry Sandusky's emphatic denials he had sexually abused boys became obsolete.
    • Jerry Sandusky admitted showering with boys but denied the sex accusations. Here is what Sandusky has said publicly in the months before the trial.
    • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse following his child sexual-abuse trial on June 18, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Today the defense began their argument in the sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who is charged with 52 criminal counts of alleged sexual abuse of children.

      Jerry Sandusky's writings in a 2000 memoir about the difficult relationship with his adopted son are similar to several letters he wrote to a boy now known as alleged victim No. 4.
    • Holloway Sandusky

      The words came haltingly, punctuated by ragged sighs, groans and cracking voices as two teenage boys bared their darkest secrets to a packed courtroom.