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August 16, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Joe Paterno might be gone, but he certainly won’t be forgotten.
The coach, who died in January, will be remembered as two things: a charismatic leader in college football history and now, perhaps more predominantly, as an aide in covering up a child abuse scandal. Even though he was not directly responsible for the abuse, Paterno was accused of helping hide the acts of Jerry Sandusky, his one-time assistant coach, from the authorities.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 21
The latest biography by Joe Posnanski, who was twice named the best sports columnist in America by The Associated Press Sports Editors, attempts to shed new light on one of the biggest names involved in the controversy.
After spending more than two years with Paterno and his family, Posnanski seems to view the Penn State legend with admiration. The account details a man who experienced star football status at Brown University and a year of military service during WWII. Posnanski says Paterno wasn’t bitter about how it all ended, but he was careful about his exposure after the scandal.
In a Sports Illustrated article, Posnanski writes of Paterno’s relentless battle with depression after details of the Penn State child abuse scandal broke in 2011. The author notes Paterno’s constant reminders to himself of his full life: a wonderful wife, caring children and a rewarding career.
Predictably, announcing the release of such a controversial book caused uproar from the beginning. Simon & Schuster moved up the release date from Father’s Day 2013 to August 2012 to coincide with the start of Penn State’s first football season without Paterno. The publishing company also changed the title from The Grand Experiment: The Life and Meaning of Joe Paterno to the less celebratory Paterno.
On July 24, the NCAA announced sanctions that will allow Penn State to keep the football program this year but not without a price. The university was slapped with a $60 million fine, and 111 of Paterno’s wins were dropped from his record of 409.
Recent findings in the Freeh Report, a document independently put out by former Judge Louis Freeh and his law firm, outlines Paterno’s cover-ups in great detail. Along with the removal of the head coach’s iconic statue from Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, there’s talk of changing the release date a second time. But if all goes as planned, the bio will hit bookstores at the same time the Nittany Lions finish the season’s pregame stretch.