"Joe Paterno was an integral part of this active decision to conceal."
That was a statement yesterday made by former FBI director Louis Freeh at a news conference explaining his 267 page report investigating how Penn State handled the Jerry Sandusky incidents in 1998 and 2001.
A statement that will forever tarnish one of college football's most beloved and iconic figures and cements doubt into the famed coach's legacy.
The Freeh Report delves deeply into how Penn State President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Paterno decided to conceal the the 2001 incident with Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy, which was reported at the time by then graduate assistant Mike McQueary.
The report found that the 1998 incident where Sandusky was also accused of showering with a boy after his mother was concerned when the boy came home with wet hair was known by the leaders at Penn State, including Paterno. Nothing was done about the incident by the university and the report said that "the situation was being followed closely by Paterno."
After Mike McQueary reported Sandusky showering with a boy in 2001 to Paterno it remains evident that Paterno did report the incident to his superiors. However, it seems that Paterno in his time at Penn State had no superiors, which ultimately had led to the dilemma the university faces today.
Freeh stated that Sandusky's continued abuse was in part due to the school's "failure of governance" on the part of Paterno's superiors and board of trustees.
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," said Louis Freeh. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
The report also goes into handwritten notes and e-mails between Spanier, Schultz, and Curley that show the process in which the incident with Sandusky was concealed.
Spanier, Schultz, and Curley apparently devised a plan to alert the Department of Child Welfare, but Curley later stated in an e-mail that he changed his mind about their plan saying "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe."
President Spanier agreed with Curley, but still had reservations saying "the only downside for us is if the message isn't heard and acted upon and then we become vulnerable for not reporting it."
This moment in time is where these four men could have changed the course of the future for Penn State University. Spanier, according to the report had his doubts about concealing the incident and deservingly so. Still, the allure of Paterno obviously overshadowed what was truly important.
"In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the university; Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse," it said in Freeh's report.
This situation comes down to four men abusing their power in order to protect the integrity of a university and a football program. Obviously, what they did not deduce at the time is that they were destroying the integrity that many people, most of all Joe Paterno help build.
So many people want to know, especially Penn State alumni and Nittany Lion faithful what is next? What happens now?
The next debate seems to be whether the NCAA should get involved and sanctions should be dealt out to the Penn State football program.
The sanction PSU critics are calling for is a lack of institutional control, meaning the way the university leaders handled the situation and also that some of Sandusky's crimes were committed in the football building.
ESPN.com's Joe Schad spoke to Michael Buckner, who is an attorney who specializes in NCAA cases. Buckner had this to say about the NCAA investigation into the Freeh Report findings.
"It documented a lack of institutional control at Penn State, but not the lack of control as defined in the NCAA Manual or articulated by the Committee on Infractions," Buckner said. "Naturally, Mark Emmert (NCAA President) could disregard this fact and pursue an unchartered and unsupported course of action. However, I would let the legal system (criminal and civil) do its job."
Whether the NCAA will get involved or not time will only tell. What we do know is that based on this report by a very credible person in Louis Freeh is that these four men really made some awful and unforgiveable mistakes as leaders of one of the most honorable universities in the country.
Although Paterno should not be solely judged on his mistake not to take more action into these crimes committed by Sandusky, it will forever stain his undeniably incredible career as a football coach and human being. This debacle must be a lesson to all the institutions everywhere that one man is not more important than the whole of anything.