Penn Stateâ€™s football faithful should be worried this week about their upcoming home game against No. 19 Nebraska â€” about the Cornhuskersâ€™ famous Midwestern physicality and a quarterback who can rush as well as he passes.
How quaint those concerns seemed Monday.
In a nationally televised news conference, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly described the allegations of child sexual abuse against a former Penn State assistant coach that are threatening the reputation of a program famous for cultivating both winning ways and men of character â€” and perhaps even threatening the legacy its iconic architect, 84-year-old head coach Joe Paterno.
The accused coach, Jerry Sandusky, 67, served as Paternoâ€™s defensive coordinator for 23 years before retiring in 1999. He was arrested Saturday on suspicion of sexually abusing eight boys from the late 1990s to 2009.
The lurid grand jury report describes a predator who allegedly used the razzle-dazzle of big-time athletics â€” including his access to Penn State facilities â€” to lure male victims as young as 8 years old.
â€œThis is a case about a sexual predator accused of using his position within the community and the university to prey on numerous young boys for more than a decade,â€ Kelly said.
She noted another facet of the ongoing investigation that was â€œequally significantâ€: the allegations that two top Penn State administrators â€” Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a senior vice president for finance and business â€” lied to a grand jury about the case and failed to report suspected abuse, raising the possibility that the administration at the 44,000-student school sought to protect the programâ€™s vaunted reputation at all costs.”
â€œIâ€™m a HUGE Paterno fan, but this just doesnâ€™t wash at first glance,â€ said Pete Anthan, who graduated from Penn State in 1989 and who posted his reaction on the schoolâ€™s Facebook page. â€œI am disgusted. I am ashamed of my university. Whether guilty or not, the fact that this all was met with a shrug is incomprehensible.â€’
Sandusky faces various criminal charges, including multiple charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He was released Saturday on $100,000 bail.
Schultz and Curley appeared in court in Harrisburg, Penn., on Monday and were freed on $75,000 bail each after surrendering their passports. Curley asked to be put on administrative leave Sunday to have the time to defend himself. Schultzâ€™s retirement was also announced.
Lawyers for all three men say they are innocent.
It is unclear what all of this will mean for Paterno, a 62-year veteran of the Penn State football program, who holds the record for most wins in Division I history, and is one of the few working coaches on a par with such gridiron legends as Vince Lombardi and Paul â€œBearâ€ Bryant.
Kelly said Monday that Paterno is â€œnot regarded as a targetâ€ of the investigation at present. She noted that Paterno followed state law in reporting an alleged abuse incident involving Sandusky to his Penn State superiors in 2002.
Paterno, in a statement, lamented the possibility that young people may have suffered. â€œIf this is true, we were all fooled,â€ he wrote.