UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - FILE: University President Graham Spanier of the Penn State Nittany Lions watches warmups before the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium on October 27, 2007 in University Park, Pennsylvania. Joe Paterno and Penn State university president Graham Spanier stepped down today amid allegations that former assistant Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier sat down for a lengthy interview to defend his actions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky Scandal and the damning Freeh Report.
Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier is hitting the press rounds looking to explain his side of the story in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Spanier was one of four PSU authorities who were determined as derelict in their duties in the Freeh Report, and he's out to defend himself and his past actions.
The biggest point of criticism and blame directed at Spanier centers around his response to emails from 1998 and a meeting in 2001, which were the main takeaways from the Freeh Report. Spanier told Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker that he did not remember the exchange in 1998, and describes himself as an uniformed passive party who was simply copied on the emails:
I have no recollection. I am aware, as I said in my letter to the board of trustees, that I was apparently copied on two e-mails. I didn't reply to them. The first e-mail that I saw didn't mention anybody's name. It simply said something to the effect of "The employee will be interviewed tomorrow," something like that, no name mentioned. Then, about five weeks later, I think it was, I was copied on another e-mail that said, "The interview has been completed, the investigation has been completed, nothing was found, Jerry felt badly that the kid might have felt badly," I'm not quoting directly, of course-"And the investigation is closed and the matter is behind us."
The second incident which was reported up the chain happened in 2001, when former quarterback Mike McQueary reported that he witnessed Jerry Sandusky raping a young boy in the showers of the Lasch Building. Spanier talked about the meeting with Tim Curley and Gary Schultz where they discussed McQueary's account:
Now they either used the word "horsing around" or "horseplay." And the staff member wasn't sure what he saw, because it was indirect and around a corner.
And I remember asking two questions. "Are you sure that's how it was described to you, as ‘horsing around'?" And the answer was yes from both Gary and Tim. And, "Are you sure that's all that was said to you?" And the answer was yes. I remember, for a moment, sort of figuratively scratching our heads and thinking about what's an appropriate way to follow up on "horsing around." I had never gotten a report like that before.
Spanier discusses the course of action coming out of that meeting, where Curley was directed to sit down with Sandusky and articulate that the behavior was unacceptable. The former President indicated that it was difficult to compel action at that point because Sandusky was no longer an employee at PSU, so banning him from the football facilities and alerting Second Mile was the course of action taken.
The interview with Toobin is wide-ranging and comprehensive, covering his interactions with Joe Paterno and the fallout from the Freeh Report. You can read the full Q&A here.
For more on Spanier and the Penn State scandal, visit Black Shoe Diaries.