When the Freeh Report was first released this summer, Nike co-founder Phil Knight released a statement condemning Joe Paterno’s lack of action in response to Sandusky’s abuse of a child in the Lasch Building showers. “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences,” Knight said this past summer. “I missed that Joe missed it, and I’m extremely saddened on this day.”
But Knight — who had a close relationship with Paterno as a result of Nike’s coach retreats — has reversed course today following yesterday’s release of a Paterno family critique of the Freeh Report, admitting that he had not read the report in full before releasing that statement and arguing that Freeh’s allegations against Paterno are theories and not facts.
You can read Knight’s statement released today below:
Last July I was surprised and saddened by the Freeh Report and the subsequent press conference held by the former FBI Director. In response to the shocking findings, which were so definitively and passionately presented, and based on the reputation of Louis Freeh, I issued a statement which said in part, “According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day.”
I made this statement without having read the report in full. When I later took the time to do so, I was surprised to learn that the alarming allegations, which so disturbed the nation, were essentially theories and assertions rather than solid charges backed by solid evidence. On reflection I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment.
With the release of the report by the King and Spalding law firm, including analysis by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler James Clemente, it is clear that the findings of the Freeh Report were unjustified and unsubstantiated. When this tragic story first unfolded Joe cautioned all of us to slow down and carefully gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. We owed it to the victims, he said, to get to the truth. It was counsel we all should have followed. Additionally, The NCAA’s actions are exposed as totally unwarranted. The NCAA acted outside its charter and rendered judgment absent any kind of investigation or judicial hearing. It was simply grandstanding.
And while some may still debate the who, what, when, where, why of this sad case, the clear villain, as Jim Clemente notes, is Jerry Sandusky himself.