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Sue Paterno Releases Statement On Family’s Decision To Drop Lawsuit Against NCAA

Following the decision of the Paterno family to drop the lawsuit against the NCAA over its use of the Freeh report during the Sandusky scandal, Sue Paterno released a statement explaining the decision to not move forward with its grievances.

“Our goal has always been to uncover and make transparent the full truth.  We have done all we can in this litigation to achieve that end and the furtherance of it beyond this point will not yield anything new, which is why I have decided to end my litigation with the NCAA,” Paterno said in the statement.

The Paterno estate and former assistant coaches Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney filed the lawsuit in 2013 against the NCAA, its president Mark Emmert and former executive committee chair Ed Ray. It claimed commercial disparagement and defamation, and said that as a result, damaged the estate’s commercial interests and values as well as harming the former assistant coaches’ ability to find similar work.

Since the lawsuit was originally filed in 2013, many of the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State have been reversed.

“Although the fight has been long and difficult, enormous progress has been made,” Paterno said. “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.”

The NCAA has a different theory for the end of this lawsuit.

“Its decision today, after years of investigation and discovery, to abandon its lawsuit rather than subject those facts to courtroom examination is telling,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. “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.”

You can read the full Sue Paterno statement below:

For more than half a century Joe and I were honored to represent Penn State. We always knew this place was special and we were determined to help it grow into the world-class institution it is today.

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. 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.

Out of the ashes of that widely discredited report, I sought to help other communities become safer – to help them to see that which we missed and to help prevent future similar tragedies.  That is why I commissioned Jim Clemente to draft a report on how predators in every community operate.  It is my continued hope that people will read his report and educate themselves on the signs.  Every day, all over the country, we are reminded of the need.  As Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon noted recently, “”it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile,” a reality faced by every community and one whose tragic effects are felt daily.  That is why Joe felt learning from this tragedy was so important that the last thing he wrote in his own hand was that – God willing – there would be a silver lining of greater awareness to this societal problem.

Joe was a man of integrity who didn’t fear the truth, but rather embraced it. And this is why he urged the administration to slow down and conduct an objective, independent and thorough investigation. I think almost everyone agrees this is what should have happened, and, as Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s independent report recently noted, did not happen. Through the last five years, and over three years of litigation, we learned what such a careful investigation would have found: that Joe never interfered in any investigation; that he properly reported the one account brought to him; that there was no conspiracy or any attempt at a cover up; and that Joe followed university and NCAA procedure to the letter.  Joe has never been accused of any crime and all testimony supports that he followed the law and policy at all times.

It has been a tremendous personal strain to undertake an effort that never should have been needed in the first place. During these difficult times, I’ve been inspired by the unwavering support of the students and alumni of Penn State. With their devotion and energy I’m confident the university’s future will be brighter than ever.

Our goal has always been to uncover and make transparent the full truth.  We have done all we can in this litigation to achieve that end and the furtherance of it beyond this point will not yield anything new, which is why I have decided to end my litigation with the NCAA.

I love Penn State. My family and I don’t confuse the misguided actions of a few with the intent of the university as a whole. I am grateful for the extraordinary support my family and I have received from our friends in State College and throughout the Penn State community. This great university has been, and will continue to be, very important to me.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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