Before the release of an internal investigation into Penn State officials' and former coach Joe Paterno's involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Jay Paterno spoke out.
- PEOPLE Editors Pick the Four Best Gowns of This Year's Cannes Film Festival
- Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, Stars of Extra Virgin, Fuse Tofu & Berries for Summertime Treat
- Will Smith Raps Fresh Prince Theme Song with Son Jaden - and Dances with Alfonso Ribeiro!
- Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo Show Off Their Wedding Presents
- Amanda Bynes Tweets Again, Accuses NYPD Officer of Sexual Harassment
“We’ve never been afraid of the truth,’’ said Paterno, Joe’s son and former assistant coach, in an exclusive TODAY interview Thursday. “Let the truth come out and go from there.’’Video: Paterno son: ‘Let’s have the truth come out’ (on this page)
The eagerly-awaited results of the eight-month investigation, which was commissioned by the Penn State University trustees and headed up by former FBI director Louis Freeh, were released Thursday. There had been some selective leaks to the media, including reports that in February 2001, top school officials changed plans to report Sandusky after an incident with a boy in a shower because Paterno talked them out of it.
On June 22, Sandusky, the Nittany Lions’ former defensive coordinator, was convicted of 45 counts involved with sexually assaulting 10 boys.Report: Paterno, other leaders covered for Sandusky
“Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky,’’ a Paterno family spokesman said in a statement released Tuesday night. “Joe Paterno did not know that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth.’’
Paterno died in January at 85 years old from complications from lung cancer only three months after he was fired in the wake of the scandal. In a letter written nearly a month before his death, major college football’s all-time wins leader defended the integrity of his program and claimed the fallout from the Sandusky scandal had nothing to do with the achievements of his players.
One of the Penn State officials interviewed for the report was former vice president of student affairs Vicky Triponey, who clashed with Paterno in 2007 after six of his players were arrested for beating up students in an off-campus incident. At issue is the amount of power Paterno wielded at Penn State and whether he used it to cover up the wrongdoings of his players and possibly of Sandusky’s actions.
“I think any suggestion about the culture of football at Penn State, you have to really look at the facts of the situation,’’ Jay Paterno told Matt Lauer. “We graduate our student-athletes in football at a higher rate than the students in general at Penn State. There was a commitment to academic and athletic excellence in that order. Joe Paterno was willing to bench players that were eligible in order to send a message to his players.
More TODAY News
“The idea that there was some kind of power situation at Penn State — Joe Paterno was the first one to say to us, 'hey, look, we’re a part of the university, just a part of it. We’re a football program and this is an academic institution,' and Joe believed that very fervently.’’
“I think it was a cover-up,’’ sportswriter and author Buzz Bissinger told NBC News. “I think it’s sort of the code of omerta that I’ve seen in football program after football program. They will never turn each other in, and Joe Paterno ruled that school. He had control over anything that had to do with football, and I believe that extended to Jerry Sandusky.’’
Jay Paterno insisted his family has always sought the truth.
“All Joe Paterno has wanted and all anybody at Penn State and certainly my family has wanted is for the investigation to look into the things that have happened and find the truth and go from there,’’ he said. “We haven’t seen the report so to comment on what may or may not be in there would be premature by all of us. This doesn’t end it in any way because there’s still legal things going on, there’s still legal testimony. I think it’s important to see this as part of the process and go from there.’’
Paterno said he met with investigators. He said his father did not, as his health was already rapidly declining by the time the investigation began.
“We were more than willing to answer questions,’’ Paterno said.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints