Paterno Family Drops Lawsuit Against NCAA

NY Daily News' Dick Weiss: Joe Paterno's statue on the Penn State campus still stands, but after the shocking scandal, it should be removed. (Pat Little/AP)
Pat Little/AP

With the dropping of its lawsuit against the NCAA on Friday, the family of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno essentially put an end to the most sordid and reputation-damaging episode in the University’s long and storied history.

The lawsuit had argued that the investigation into Penn State’s former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse case damaged the Paterno family’s commercial interests.

It will be five years ago in October that Sandusky, 68, was convicted of 45 criminal counts for sexual molestation of 10 boys during a period of more than 15 years. Although the convicted molester maintained his innocence throughout the trial, on October 9, 2012, Sandusky was sentenced to sixty years in prison and is not eligible for parole for thirty years. The sentence means he will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

Sporting News reported that the lawsuit was linked with a NCAA investigation driven by former FBI director Louis Freeh, that Coach Paterno “did the bare minimum in reporting Sandusky.”

As a result of the University’s failure to expose Sandusky’s degenerate behavior, the NCAA removed 112 wins from the Nittany Lions during Coach Paterno’s reign. Moreover, the NCAA levied heavy sanctions against the football program, establishing temporary recruiting restrictions and preventing the team from playing in bowl games. (A later ruling by the NCAA restored all 112 wins that were vacated, making Coach Paterno the winningest coach in major college football history.)

“The Paterno family characterized this case as a ‘search for the truth,’” asserted Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer. “Its decision today, after years of investigation and discovery, to abandon its lawsuit rather than subject those facts to courtroom examination is telling.

“We believe that the powerful record developed during discovery overwhelmingly confirmed what the NCAA has believed all along: The NCAA acted reasonably in adopting the conclusions of an eight-month investigation by Louis Freeh.”

Coach Paterno’s family dropped the suit shortly before it was scheduled to present a lengthy brief involving the family’s claims.

“It is disappointing that so much time, effort, and financial resources have been wasted on efforts by the Paterno family in this litigation,” observed Remy. “We must not lose sight of the fact that the real victims are the dozens of innocent children abused by Jerry Sandusky. ”

Coach Joe’s widow, had an opposite view of the situation. “In the fallout from the Sandusky tragedy and the subsequent mishandling of the investigation by the board and Louis Freeh, I was determined to do everything in my power to defend the honor of Penn State and set the record straight on Joe,” said Sue Paterno.

“Although the fight has been long and difficult, enormous progress has been made. The unprecedented sanctions imposed on the University were reversed. The wins, which were unjustly stripped from the players, were reinstated. And even Mr. Freeh has stated under oath that his many alleged ‘findings’ were, in fact, merely his opinions.”

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