What Did Paterno Know Before the Scandal Officially Broke?

by Jim Weber

This chapter is a free excerpt from College Football 2011: The Year of the Scandal.

Shortly after his dismissal, the press discovered that Joe Paterno transferred ownership of his house to his wife Sue for one dollar in a transaction that took place in July.

According to the New York Times, both Joe and Sue Paterno had joint ownership of the house that they bought for $58,000 in 1969 until four months before the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke publicly.

At the time, it was possible that Paterno’s role in the alleged cover-up could have embroiled him in a civil lawsuit and put the family home in danger.


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Shortly after his dismissal, the press discovered that Joe Paterno transferred ownership of his house to his wife Sue for one dollar in a transaction that took place in July.

According to the New York Times, both Joe and Sue Paterno had joint ownership of the house that they bought for $58,000 in 1969 until four months before the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke publicly.

At the time, it was possible that Paterno’s role in the alleged cover-up could have embroiled him in a civil lawsuit and put the family home in danger.

The Times reported that the house’s fair-market value was $594,484.40. Wick Sollers, a lawyer for Paterno, told the newspaper that the one dollar transaction was part of a “multi-year estate planning program” and not a reaction to the scandal.

Sorry, Wick, we don’t believe that. It seems as if Paterno wasn’t blindsided by the scandal after all.

The timing of Sandusky’s arrest also raised the eyebrows of those who believe that the authorities waited until coach Joe Paterno secured his record-setting 409th win in a 10-7 victory over Illinois on October 29, 2011. That’s when he officially passed Eddie Robinson as the all-time winningest coach in Division I history.

One week later on November 5, authorities arrested Sandusky on 40 criminal counts before releasing him on $100,000 unsecured bail.

The timing prompted many conspiracy theorists to wonder if the legacy of a football coach (at least in the realm of the record books) was more important than the immediate arrest of an alleged serial pedophile.

Is there some truth to this or are people just searching for another salacious detail to this sordid tale? Let’s look at the timeline.

The mother of “Victim One” went to the police in the spring of 2008 to report that Sandusky had sexually abused her son.

In March of 2011 the Patriot-News, citing five people familiar with the case, reported that a grand jury had been meeting for 18 months to investigate the claims of sexual assault. The newspaper said that both Paterno and athletic director Tim Curley were called to testify.

To put it simply, it took three years for Sandusky to be arrested after the claim in 2008 and eight months passed from when details of the grand jury’s ongoing investigation leaked until authorities took Sandusky into custody. What took so long?

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