Joe Paterno spoke out about the child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky that cost him his job as head coach of the Penn State University football team in an exclusive interview with the Washington Post. “In hindsight, I wish I had done more,” he told the Post.
The 85-year-old Paterno responded to questions about his reaction when assistant coach Mike McQueary explained to Paterno in 2002 that he had seen Sandusky molest a boy. Author of the piece Sally Jenkins writes:
Paterno’s portrait of himself is of an old-world man profoundly confused by what McQueary told him, and who was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he did not want to be seen as trying to exert any influence for or against Sandusky. “I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake . . .”
The article comes after the university’s new president Rodney A. Erickson took questions from alumni in Manhattan Friday. Erickson replaced the former president Graham B. Spanier who was let go along with Paterno in the wake of the scandal. The New York Times reported that the group at the event had “simmering frustration over how the firing of the football coach Joe Paterno was handled.”
There was a “tense moment,” the Times noted, when one alum noted that “Paterno was not a victim and that not all alumni were upset by his firing,” the former of which was echoed by Paterno himself in the Washington Post interview. Jenkins writes:
But Joe Paterno is not the victim here, he reminds you.
“You know, I’m not as concerned about me,” he said. “What’s happened to me has been great. I got five great kids. Seventeen great grandchildren. I’ve had a wonderful experience here at Penn State. I don’t want to walk away from this thing bitter. I want to be helpful.”
Paterno suffers from lung cancer.