Someone Actually Thinks The Freeh Report Exonerated Joe Paterno, And It's Bill James

Today was rough for anyone even remotely associated with Penn State University, and there are certainly more developments on the way. What you didn't find today, however, were many folks (at least, high-profile ones) defending the actions of Penn State or the conduct of Joe Paterno, as was laid out in Louis Freeh's sweeping investigation.

Oh, wait! Here's Bill James addressing the Freeh Report during his "Hey Bill" Q&A today. Here's the relevant passage (all emphasis is from James):

Independent report on Penn State scandal: "The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno's."
Asked by: Bruce
Answered: 7/13/2012

The Freeh reports states quite explicitly and at least six times (a) that the 1998 incident did NOT involve any criminal conduct—on the part of Sandusky or anyone else—and (b) that Paterno had forced the resignation of Sandusky before the 1998 incident occurred.

The 1998 incident was perceived AT THE TIME to involve no criminal conduct. The May 3, 1998 incident was very, very, very thoroughly investigated by at least four different agencies (University police, state police, and two different child welfare agencies), all four of which issued written reports stating that no criminal event had occurred. In retrospect, since the actions were part of a pattern of criminal conduct, it may be said that they were criminal conduct in and of themselves, but no one saw that at the time.

In any case, what EXACTLY is it that Paterno should have done? Fire him again? It is preposterous to argue, in my view, that PATERNO should have taken action after all of the people who were legally charged to take action had thoroughly examined the case and decided that no action was appropriate.

It's hard to know where to even start destroying James' argument. Suffice it to say, he's not swayed by all the ensuing years that Sandusky was allowed access to the Penn State campus, places where rapes occurred, or the fact that Sandusky's "resignation" (and failure to be more formally reported and subsequently arrested) afforded him more time to spend victimizing children associated with Second Mile, all in a vain and disgusting attempt to protect the university's image.

Advertisement

If anything, let's not allow James to engage in such revisionist garbage. Paterno knew, and that's a fact.

[Bill James Online, h/t Tom H.]