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‘Closing This Chapter:’ Paterno Family, University Settle All Claims

The Penn State Board of Trustees opened its regularly-scheduled meeting on Friday by announcing that the university has resolved all of its outstanding claims with the Paterno family, which had been ongoing since the Sandusky scandal’s unearthing in 2011.

As part of the resolution, the Paternos have dropped all of their outstanding claims against Penn State. The university has also agreed to cover “certain of the Paterno family’s expenses,” according to a release.

“The University recognizes and takes great pride in the many contributions made by Joe Paterno, not just to the football program, but to the academic advancement of this institution and to countless charitable causes in the community as well,” Board of Trustees chair Mark Dambly said in a statement. “We are pleased that the Paterno family has indicated that they will not support public or private advocacy efforts to revisit the past, through further review or release of investigative materials, or otherwise.”

A large part of the agreement seemed to stem from the fact that the Freeh Report contained “opinions about individuals and matters that are not shared by the University.”

“The University has made clear that Mr. Freeh’s opinions about Joe were never endorsed by Penn State,” Sue Paterno said in a statement. “By confirming this position and reaching this understanding, the leadership of Penn State has acted in the best interests of the University, and for this I am grateful.”

Dambly kicked off Friday’s meeting with the following statement, which you can read below:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the leadership of Penn State, I am pleased to announce that we have reached a resolution of the outstanding issues between the University and the Paternos. As part of the resolution, the Paternos have dropped all outstanding claims and the University has agreed to cover certain of the Paterno family’s expenses.

Many differing reports and statements have been issued with respect to the events that have unfolded at Penn State over the last decade. Many of those reports and statements, including the Freeh Report, contain opinions about individuals and matters that are not shared by the University. The University’s examination and response to these reports has been with a single purpose, and that is to implement improvements in university policies and procedures, including those related to the protection of children, compliance, governance and safety. In implementing more than one hundred recommendations, we have become a stronger institution. The victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse suffered extraordinary harm that cannot be undone. But, as an institution, and as individuals, we can ensure that we never forget the victims of abusive behavior. Our commitment to these reforms will never waver.

The University recognizes and takes great pride in the many contributions made by Joe Paterno, not just to the football program, but to the academic advancement of this institution and to countless charitable causes in the community as well. We are pleased that the Paterno family has indicated that they will not support public or private advocacy efforts to revisit the past, through further review or release of investigative materials, or otherwise.    

We also wish to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Sue Paterno. Her unwavering devotion to Joe, her family and Penn State remains an inspiration to all of us. As time passed and controversies lingered, she always acted with grace and dignity. She also never stopped working in behalf of the greater good for Penn State. Penn State is grateful for their decades of devoted service.

Working together, and with a sincere commitment to never forget the lessons from this tragic set of events, we will move forward in the great tradition of Penn Staters everywhere to build an even stronger University.

Mark Dambly, Penn State Board of Trustees Chair

Paterno didn’t address the trustees at Friday’s meeting, but she released the following statement in response to the resolution:

I am pleased to announce that we have reached a resolution of the issues between our family and Penn State.

The last eight years have been difficult, made more so by the opinions in the Freeh Report, which my family and I believe was deeply flawed, reached unsupported conclusions about Joe and unjustly criticized the culture of Penn State. The University has made clear that Mr. Freeh’s opinions about Joe were never endorsed by Penn State. By confirming this position and reaching this understanding, the leadership of Penn State has acted in the best interests of the University, and for this I am grateful.

Unfortunately, the Freeh Report served as the basis for the NCAA’s consent decree, which was a major reason why we sued the NCAA. The dissolution of the consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA in 2015, along with the understanding today brings this matter to an end for us. As part of this resolution, we have agreed to drop all claims against the University and the University has agreed to cover certain expenses.

With this resolution, my family and I want to move forward with the University community and University leadership. Building on the strong foundation established by hundreds of thousands of alumni and supporters, including Joe, his coaches and players, I want to help create a new chapter of opportunity for students and faculty. It is time for my family and for the Penn State community to move forward. We will not support any public or private advocacy efforts to revisit the past, through further review or release of the discredited Freeh report, Freeh’s materials, or otherwise. It is time to come together and devote our energies solely to education, research, and the advancement of one of America’s great institutions of higher learning.

A mutual resolution seldom satisfies everyone. The multiple wounds from this tragic period will take a long time to heal but we must begin now. Victims of abuse suffered extraordinary harm from one individual, and everyone associated with the Penn State community has suffered as well. We can’t undo past crimes, but we can never forget the victims of such abusive behavior.

Success with honor is more than just a saying. It is a mindset that encompasses all that we do as Penn Staters. Joe and I never believed that this philosophy was exclusive to football or athletics. It was and remains the guiding principle of our service to the university.

I love Penn State with all my heart. Joe and I met here, raised our children in State College, and now are watching our grandchildren go through as students. My love for the university, and my appreciation for all that it means to the community and the nation, has never wavered. With this resolution I look forward to continuing my relationship with the university I love. I call on all Penn Staters everywhere to join me in closing this chapter so that we can help our university better fulfill its mission.

Sue Paterno

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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