Former Penn State players still support Joe Paterno

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TNS)
  • A new accusation claims Joe Paterno knew of sexual assaults at Penn State in 1976.
  • A couple of his former players have come to Paterno's defense, saying the claims are unproven.
  • Despite testimony, two former PSU assistants said they had no knowledge of any abuse.

While more testimony surfaced Tuesday that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and two assistants knew about Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children and did nothing to prevent it, a former Nittany Lions player said he still believes accusations against Paterno are without proof.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday released previously sealed depositions that indicate Paterno knew in 1976 of abuse by Sandusky, a former longtime assistant coach who in 2012 was convicted on 45 counts.

“The claims are just that: They are claims. They're accusations,” said Brian Masella, who played at Penn State from 1971-75. “They were never proven in court.”

Penn State will commemorate Joe Paterno's first game as the school's head coach during Saturday's home game against Temple.

Masella is leading an effort to restore a statue of Paterno and “Players Wall” that stood outside Beaver Stadium. They were removed four years ago after an investigation and subsequent report by former FBI director Louis Freeh found Paterno did not act on information relating to Sandusky's inappropriate contact with boys.

“From what I can see, there is absolutely no new evidence here that has come to light that should quash our desire to have the statue and the wall replaced,” Masella said Tuesday.

Many of Paterno's former players have spoken out in recent years in support of their coach.

Penn State fired Paterno in November 2011 after Sandusky was charged. Paterno died the next January. The NCAA stripped Paterno of 111 wins but later restored them as part of a settlement with the university, leaving him with an NCAA FBS record 409 victories.

The latest accusations claim that a victim, identified as John Doe 150, approached Paterno after an alleged incident in 1976 but that the coach disregarded his assertion.

Former standout running back Franco Harris said he had doubts about the veracity of the statements in the documents.

“If (John Doe 150) didn't call the police, if he didn't call child services, if he didn't call the department of public welfare, something's not adding up,” Harris said. “And they want me to connect Joe Paterno to what this kid is saying?”

John Doe 150 said he told adults who he thought might have been coaches at a football camp he was attending about the alleged incident, according to the documents. Shortly thereafter, he told Paterno. It was another 20 years before he told anyone else, according to the documents.

Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano, another Paterno supporter, said the documents change “nothing.”

“These are still unsubstantiated, uncorroborated allegations,” Lubrano said. “We have known since May there would be allegations regarding the '70s. Today, you got more of the details with the respect to the allegations. Unfortunately, Joe is not here to defend himself.”

Assistants at odds: In a deposition from 2015, former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary testified that assistants Tom Bradley and Greg Schiano also knew of abuse incidents.

Bradley, who was named interim coach in 2011 after Paterno was fired, has claimed no knowledge of inappropriate behavior. Bradley is now defensive coordinator at UCLA. He did not return a message seeking comment.

“The last time I spoke to Bradley, he said it's bunk,” said Masella, who added that was about two years ago.

Documents: Paterno ignored boy's Sandusky complaint in 1976

Schiano, now the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, on Tuesday told ESPN he had no knowledge of the incidents.

Masella said the legacies of hundreds of former Penn State football players have been tarnished by the allegations.

“When this all broke, our legacies were destroyed,” he said. “Every time we wear a Penn State shirt somewhere, people look at us like we're guilty, like we did something wrong, like we covered something up.

“I don't want to upset child victim advocates, but they have to realize that (many) lives have been affected by this who had nothing to do with any of this.”

He said he refuses to believe Paterno covered up child abuse.

“Can you believe a man who led us in the Our Father and Hail Mary before and after a game would allow child sexual abuse?” Masella said. “No. No way.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.