- (Photo: Reuters)
In his first interview since he was fired by Penn State two months ago, ex-football coach Joe Paterno told The Washington Post, he is ''shocked and saddened'' by the Sandusky scandal.
Paterno, 85, spent over six decades with Penn State but was fired after it was found that he mishandled accusations of sexual abuse about former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno told the Post, he ''didn't know which way to go'' after assistant coach Mike McQueary approached him in 2002 and said he saw Sandusky molesting a boy.
''I think we got to wait and see what happens,'' Paterno said in an interview with the paper that was posted on its site on Saturday. ''The courts are taking care of it, the legal system is taking care of it.''
Paterno, “the winningest coach in Division I football,” according to the Associated Press, is currently coping with lung cancer. ''Speak up,'' Paterno's wife, Sue Paterno, says sometimes in the interview.
According to Paterno, McQueary ''didn't want to get specific'' about details of what he witnessed with Sandusky and a young boy in the shower and said that even if the assistant coach had been clearer, he may have still not understood the claims.
''You know, he didn't want to get specific,'' Paterno told The Washington Post. ''And to be frank with you I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it.''
Paterno said he had “no inkling” that Sandusky could have been a child molester and reported McQueary’s claims to his superiors the day after he was told.
Paterno was fired four days later, while Sandusky faces dozens of criminal counts from several accusers.
''Right now I'm trying to figure out what I'm gonna do,'' Paterno told the paper. ''Cause I don't want to sit around on my backside all day.''
When asked how the accusations against Sandusky are only now being revealed, Paterno said ''I don't know the answer to that, it's hard.'' If Sandusky is guilty, ''I'm sick about it,'' Paterno added.
Two days after Sandusky was charged, state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said the head coach and other school officials had a ''moral responsibility'' to do more and report the accusations to police.
Penn State’s athletic director Tim Curley was also ousted from the University. ''You would think I ran the show here,'' Paterno said of being fired.
Paterno announced his resignation on Nov. 9. and in a statement, called the scandal ''one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.''
The University’s trustees fired him about 12 hours later by sending a note to his home with the name John Surma, trustees vice chairman, and a phone number on it. ''In the best interests of the university, you are terminated,'' Surma told Paterno, according to the post.
“After 61 years he deserved better,'' Paterno’s wife told the paper. ''He deserved better.''
''You know, I'm not as concerned about me,'' he said. ''What's happened to me has been great. I got five great kids. Seventeen great grandchildren. I've had a wonderful experience here at Penn State. I don't want to walk away from this thing bitter. I want to be helpful.''