The author of a new biography of Joe Paterno says the late Penn State coach and his family never tried to limit his access to them after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
Joe Posnanski told The Associated Press on Tuesday the Paternos wanted their story to be told and trusted him to do it fairly.
“The one thing they were so good about, they never, from Joe all the way down, they never tried to influence the book,” Posnanski said. “They never said, `Hey, leave this out or don’t put this in.’ Or this might be misconstrued or whatever. They were, every one of them, said tell the truth the best you see it.”
“Paterno” was released Tuesday.
“(Paterno’s children) believed that if the truth came out that people would see their father for what he was,” said Posnanski, who has worked for The Kansas City Star and Sports Illustrated. “So I reached for that.”
He had extensive access to Paterno before and after the scandal, which led to Paterno’s firing by Penn State within a week of Sandusky being charged. Soon after Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died Jan. 22 at age 85.
“Pretty quickly after the scandal blew up, I realized that this was not just one chapter in his life but this was sort of the all-consuming chapter of his life,” Posnanski said.
Sandusky is jailed and awaiting sentencing after being convicted in June on 45 criminal counts involving 10 boys.
Former athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired school administrator Gary Schultz are awaiting trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report the abuse allegations against Sandusky.
Paterno was not charged, though the NCAA last month slammed his beloved football program with a range of tough sanctions. Among them, the Nittany Lions were forced to vacate 112 wins from 1998-2011, meaning Paterno no longer has the most coaching victories in major college football.
The penalty seemed to grow from a report commissioned by the school from former FBI director Louis Freeh. It said Paterno, Curley, Schultz and former school president Graham Spanier concealed allegations against Sandusky dating back to 1998. Paterno’s family and the three officials all deny those conclusions.
Posnanski said neither he nor his editors at Simon & Schuster ever considered calling off the project or delaying it as the Sandusky scandal mounted and became an enormous national news story that stoked fiery emotions both in Paterno’s supporters and his critics.
“There were certainly some down moments in the middle of all of this,” Posnanski said. “The way I took it was, I’ve come here to write about a man’s life, I thought it only was more important when all this happened.