University News

U. removes Paterno name from athletics award in wake of report’s findings

Internal report cites involvement of Joe Paterno '50 in Sandusky scandal

Senior Staff Writer
Saturday, July 14, 2012

Updated July 17.

On the heels of a report commissioned by Penn State that implicates Penn State’s former head football coach Joe Paterno ’50 in the cover up of a sexual abuse scandal involving assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the University has decided to rename the Joseph V. Paterno ’50 award, which has been awarded for nearly two decades.

The University presented the award without Paterno’s name in May this year and confirmed today that the award will revert to its original title – “the first-year male athlete award” – citing the report’s findings as its reason.

From 1993 to 2011, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education bestowed the Paterno award to the year’s “outstanding male freshman athlete.” The University will notify previous award recipients that the name has been changed, according to a University press release.

The report, led by former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh, revealed that Paterno knew about possible inappropriate behavior as early as 1998. It also concluded that he – along with Penn State’s former President Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Timothy Curley- actively colluded to shield the football program from bad publicity. Curley and Schultz are facing charges of perjury and failing to report the abuse.

Paterno died in January before he was able to speak to investigators, but the details of the report have broad implications for how his time at Penn State will be remembered.

The Freeh report included a description of an incident in February 2001 when Paterno convinced Tim Curley, then Penn State’s athletic director, not to report Sandusky to the authorities after Curley expressed his intention to do so. The report concluded that “the failure to protect the February 9, 2001 child victim, or make attempts to identify him, created a dangerous situation for other unknown, unsuspecting young boys who were lured to the

Penn State campus and football games by Sandusky and victimized repeatedly by him.”

The scandal erupted in November 2011 when a grand jury indicted Sandusky for abusing young boys from his charitable work. As the controversy evolved and entered the public view, it became clear that abuse had occurred for years and that several officials at Penn State had “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community and the public at large,” the report reads.

Immediately following the scandal, many fans and observers insisted Paterno, who had a reputation as a coach of integrity, had not been aware of any misconduct. The recent report casts serious doubt on that possibility.

Freeh said the behavior of Paterno and others at Penn State indicated a “callous and shocking disregard for child victims.”

In June, after a heavily publicized trial, Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of sexual assault against 10 different boys.

Since Freeh announced the findings of his report, public opinion has turned decidedly against Paterno. At Penn State, where Paterno was once revered as a larger-than-life figure responsible not only for the success of the football team, but also for the school’s academic improvement over the past several decades, calls for the removal of a statue of the former coach have spread across the internet and the airwaves..

The Howard D. Williams ’17/Joseph V. Paterno ’50 Football Coaching Chair was also renamed in the past year, but for reasons that predate the Penn State scandal.

In 1977, Paterno was inducted into the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame. Paterno played football for Brown as an undergraduate and still shares the record for most career interceptions. He went on to an illustrious career as head coach of Penn State’s football program, leading the team out of relative obscurity to become one of the powerhouses in the nation. He accumulated a record 409 career victories, along with three Big Ten titles and two national championships, until he was fired in November amidst the controversy surrounding his reaction to the claims of child abuse.


  • Dervaish Lashkari, MD

    Freeh’s report leaves little doubt about Paterno’s involvement in these crimes of omission. His behavior has brought shame to Brown U as well in that the expectation would have been that his time at Brown would have instilled greater morality than exhibited by this man.

  • Anonymous

    Eye of the beholder I guess. I’ve tried to keep an open mind on the whole issue, and expected a more critical reading of the Freeh report by Brown. It seems most people have assumed this report, paid for by a party with a vested interest, is somehow impartial and reflects a high quality investigation; if one actually reads the report thoroughly, it seems clear this is not the case. The report also carries no legal or official weight. It is amazing strong on conjecture and opinion, especially regarding Paterno’s putative role, and extremely weak on hard evidence. Accepting Freeh’s conclusions and assertions as fact is, at best, intellectually lazy.
    Brown should have the courage to wait for more facts to emerge in the legal process, and to insist on real evidence, before bowing to today’s lynchmob mentality and throwing one of its alumni, whose good works and values seem indisputable to everyone who actually knew him, under the bus.

  • Anonymous

    The real fact of the matter is that before throwing this grand and beautiful spirit under the bus, Brown should have engaged in cross campus discussion like you do everything else. Coach Paterno was a winner even in defeat – He understood life as well and better than most of thosae involoved in sport.

    God be with you for this rush to judgement.

  • Anonymous

    The University has made the correct decision. What it boils down to, with indisputable evidence, is that Paterno and others put themselves, their University, and an athletic program ahead of victims. No matter how many wonderful things he has achieved, this is one wrong that unfortunately defines Paterno’s legacy, and necessitates Brown’s rightful decision to remove his name from the award.

  • Anonymous

    problem with last comment is that the evidence is FAR from indisputable with respect to Paterno. But if enough people shout that assertion it becomes accepted as fact. Brown should not join this mindless piling on and should not have become complicit in this unwarranted destruction of a great man’s reputation.

  • Anonymous

    History will amend and clarify the Joe Paterno Penn Sate situation. We were taught at Brown that “Truth is beauty and beauty is truth” Brown being Brown couldn’t wait having take a sharp turn left. Too late to remove Joe’s contributions to Brown.

    Kip cohen ’50

  • Anonymous

    Who paid for the report? Not following this closely. Heard Paterno’s son give a seemingly good defense of his father — also challenging e-mail implications, but I really don’t know enough.

  • Anonymous

    It is amazing how perfectly intelligent, rational people from the Penn State family have been completely brainwashed into denial on this. It is time for acceptance and to make changes to ensure that these things do not happen again.

  • Anonymous

    Not one person making comment has acknowledged the pain of the victims. Maybe they don’t believe there are victims, only liars who made it all up? What a slap in the face!!!!

  • Anonymous

    All these people who say they care about the victim’s are liars. They couldn’t care less about the victim’s; they are just looking for an excuse to criticize other people while they sit on their high horses. You see these people on TV at some candlelight ceremony with crocodile tears streaming down their faces. There’re phonies who just want to get on TV and try to make other people look bad.

  • Anonymous

    comment before the last one is typical of the prevalent obfuscation from people who won’t deal with evidence and facts…a desire to see Joe Paterno treated fairly does not equate with denial that sandusky abused children. The question is whether Joe should be blamed, and whether Brown should be jumping on the anti-Paterno bandwagon. There is precious little evidence to warrant such action. Brown needs to show courage and do the right thing; at least slow down and carefully examine evidence before even thinking about booting Joe from the hall of fame. The Freeh report is a joke in terms of rigor, full of unsupported supposition especially in linking Paterno’s culpability with the senior administrators. Freeh would have been front and center in prosecuting witches in Salem or supposed communists with McCarthy. Open-minded people should look at sites like and do your own thinking