Corbett: “Never Will” Condemn Joe Paterno

Governor was a voting Penn State trustee when coach was fired in 2011.

One reason Gov. Tom Corbett starts his re-election campaign in such a deep hole, poll-wise, is that there are a whole lot of people in this state who love Penn State — and a whole lot of them are still fans of the late football coach Joe Paterno. A whole lot of them blame Corbett for how Paterno and the university so messily divorced — there is, at the extreme end, this online petition — citing Corbett’s handling of the investigation into Jerry Sandusky to Corbett’s actions as a voting trustee on Penn State’s board. Corbett on Thursday tried to dig his way out of the hole, telling the Associated Press that he had “never” condemned Paterno for failing to report Sandusky — and that he regretted Penn State fired Paterno by phone instead of in person:

“When they were talking about the whole thing I said, `You’ve got to remember the children,'” Corbett said. “Since that date the only thing I have said about Joe Paterno is I’ve quoted him. As he said, I wish he would have done more. I’ve not condemned, one way or the other, never have, never will. These are unusual circumstances.”

Corbett told AP he didn’t participate in a voice vote on Paterno’s firing. (Some reports of the firing suggest that a proposal was made to fire Paterno and that no member of the board objected, which would place Corbett’s silence in a different light.) And he said he had not known Paterno would be fired by phone.

“If I had known that, I would have insisted they do it in person,” Corbett said. “Man up.”

Earlier this week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane released a report that said Corbett — as attorney general investigating Sandusky — did not deliberately drag his heels on the Sandusky investigation, but did question the decision-making at points in the investigation. [Associated Press]

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  • Tim Berton

    Corbett’s claim that he never condemned Paterno is false. Corbett publicly criticized Paterno before and after he was fired. That can easily be verified via online articles from Nov. 2011.

    Corbett on Paterno before he was fired:

    “Asked if he felt Paterno had a moral responsibility to act when a graduate student reported to Paterno seeing Sandusky allegedly assaulting a boy in a campus shower in 2002, the governor said: ‘There is a legal issue, and there is a moral issue. I am personally disappointed in the lack of action, and I had to contain that for the last two-plus years (during the investigation). The board is going to address that.'”

    Corbett on Paterno right after the firing:

    “In my opinion, when you don’t follow through, when you don’t continue on to make sure that actions are taken, then I lose confidence in your ability to lead. That would be the case here.”

    “The actions or the failure to act while maybe not criminal, caused me not to have confidence in the president and in the coach.”

    Corbett is also inaccurate on the “last two-plus years” part of his Nov. 2011 statement. Paterno’s involvement only became known to Corbett’s investigators one year prior when they spoke to Mike McQueary in Nov. 2010.