NCAA

Judge's order reopens questions about what Paterno knew when

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Judge's order reopens questions about what Paterno knew when

A new legal document that claims a boy told Joe Paterno in 1976 that Jerry Sandusky had molested him has dropped like a bombshell and reignited debate about what the Penn State coach knew about his longtime assistant decades before his arrest.

Details of the testimony remain hidden inside a sealed deposition in Penn State's court fight with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company.

Paterno family members immediately dismissed the accusation, and even an attorney for victims of Sandusky cautioned that he did not know of irrefutable evidence supporting the claim.

Paterno, who died in 2012, had said that an assistant's report in 2001 of Sandusky attacking a boy in the shower was the first he knew of such allegations against Sandusky.

Details of the 1976 accusation were not included in the court document -- a judge's ruling in Penn State's dispute with its insurer -- and a lawyer for the company declined to comment.

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence for his conviction in the sexual abuse of 10 children. The university has also paid out more than $90 million to settle 32 civil claims involving Sandusky. How far back in time all the acts occurred has not been made public.

Penn State's insurer claims there is evidence of several early acts of molestation by Sandusky, and not just the one by a boy who allegedly went to Paterno with his report in the 1970s, according to the ruling by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer.

The judge wrote in a footnote that the events are described "in a number of the victims' depositions."

The insurer's evidence includes a claim that one assistant coach saw "inappropriate contact" between Sandusky and a child at the university in 1987 and a second assistant "reportedly witnessed sexual contact" between Sandusky and a child a year later, the judge said. Also in 1988, the insurer claims a child's report of his molestation by Sandusky was referred to Penn State's athletic director.

The judge wrote there was no evidence that reports of the incidents went "further up the chain of command at PSU."

In his ruling, the judge found that Penn State had to assume the costs of settlements stemming from claims over most of the 1990s because its insurance policies did not cover abuse or molestation.

When Sandusky abused children at his home or at events held by the children's charity he started, "he was still a PSU assistant coach and professor, and clothed in the glory associated with those titles, particularly in the eyes of impressionable children," Glazer wrote.

"By cloaking him with a title that enabled him to perpetuate his crimes, PSU must assume some responsibility for what he did both on and off campus," he said.

Michael Boni, a lawyer who represented some of the people with legal claims of abuse involving Sandusky, urged caution in weighing the new Paterno allegation.

"The headlines of these stories is Paterno knew of Sandusky's molestation in the '70s, '76 or '77. I'm unaware of direct, irrefutable evidence that that's the case," Boni said. "Believe me, I'm the last person to defend the guy, but I am the first person to believe in our justice system. And I think you need more than anecdotal evidence or speculative evidence."

The coach's son Scott Paterno called the new claim "bunk," tweeting Friday that "it would be great if everyone waited to see the substance of the allegation before they assume it's true. Because it's not."

The family issued a written statement asking for a full public review of the facts and saying that "fighting shadows and rumors on issues that are this significant is a disservice to everyone who cares about the truth."

Sandusky's attorney, Al Lindsay, said his client has denied that any of the incidents described in the court ruling occurred. Sandusky also maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

Paterno died about two months after Sandusky was first charged with child molestation.

The school fired Paterno and removed his statue from the front of its football stadium -- a decision that still rankles many fans and alumni -- but his name adorns a university library, and the NCAA last year restored 111 of his wins that had been vacated right after Sandusky's 2012 conviction.

Paterno was never charged with any crime, and his family is pursuing a lawsuit against the NCAA for commercial disparagement, arguing the association's since-abolished consent decree with Penn State over the Sandusky scandal damaged their commercial interests and value.

In addition, three university officials await trial on criminal charges for their handling of the Sandusky scandal.

Sports Uncovered Podcast: How to listen to episode on Oregon football's uniform revolution

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NBC Sports

Sports Uncovered Podcast: How to listen to episode on Oregon football's uniform revolution

Forget about Chip Kelly for a second: When you think of the University of Oregon, you probably think of their uniforms.

Each season, the Ducks push jersey and helmet designs to new heights, and their trailblazing influence has trickled down throughout college athletics. It all started in the 1990s, when Oregon decided to get crazy - and it worked.

In the second episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast series, NBC Sports Northwest takes a deep dive into how Oregon sparked a fashion transformation across college football with a mascot change, and with unique Nike uniforms that helped push the program into the national college football coversation.

The episode features in-depth interviews with former Oregon football head coach Mike Bellotti, former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington, and more.

The episode releases Thursday, June 11. You can listen to this episode and the entire "Sports Uncovered" series by subscribing for free wherever you listen to podcasts.

To catch every episode, be sure to subscribe to "Sports Uncovered" and have every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is available on the MyTeams app and on every major podcasting platform: Apple, Google Podcast, iHeart, Stitcher, Spotify, and TuneIn

Listen and subscribe to the "Sports Uncovered" podcast:

Jay Wright talks Saddiq Bey, missing March Madness, Phillies

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USA Today Images

Jay Wright talks Saddiq Bey, missing March Madness, Phillies

It's been 12 days since Villanova's season ended abruptly due to the coronavirus crisis. Jay Wright held a video conference on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics. 

Here are the major takeaways from Wright's session with the media.  

This March is different

Villanova missed out on opportunities to win a fourth straight Big East Tournament and participate in the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in the last 16 years. The Wildcats won eight of their final nine games to clinch a share of the Big East regular season title. Not having a chance to shine in the postseason stings. 

"Missing the NCAA Tournament is obviously tough for our guys," Wright said. "We felt like we were playing great basketball, coming on strong. I always say we want to play our best basketball at the end of the year, and I think we were doing that. It is what it is, our guys get it. 

"It's a great example of our mantra 'attitude'. We try to teach our guys that you don't have control over what happens in life. What you do have control of is your response to what happens to you. 

"I don't know if there's even been a March where I wasn't either in (the NCAA Tournament), watching it or recruiting during it. I'm testing myself on what else is there in me? Being a better father, being a better husband. Spending more time with the kids, watching more movies, reading more, trying to be more worldly. I'm not very good at it but I'm trying."

Will Saddiq Bey leave for the NBA? 

Arguably the biggest question concerning Wright's team heading into the offseason is will Saddiq Bey leave for the NBA or will he return for his junior season at Villanova? Wright mentioned that Bey was especially disappointed when this season was cut short. He realizes that he has a big decision to make on his future. Wright discussed Bey's future plans as well as freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who is also considered an NBA prospect. 

"The NBA is still on hold," Wright said. "They don't have a plan yet for what they're going to do with the pre-draft process or the draft yet. Saddiq and Jeremiah probably both will go through that process when we find out what it is. They're waiting on us for information, should they start working out? We're trying to get them as much information as possible. 

"If we were in a normal timeline, they would both go through the process. As we learn what the NBA is going to do there are so many possibilities. Just to take it to an extreme, there's a possibility they might not have a pre-draft process and just have the draft with no workouts, using the evaluations they had during the season. 

"We're communicating with both of them daily. Saddiq is having a tough time trying to find a place to work out in [his hometown] Washington D.C. He just got a gym to get into so he can shoot, he can't find a gym to get into to lift. Jeremiah is trying to find a place around here to get into to shoot."

2020 Summer Olympics postponed

Wright was supposed to spend a portion of his summer as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Tokyo. But with this week's announcement that the Olympics are postponed, his plans have changed. 

"It's the right decision," Wright said. "I feel bad for all of those athletes that it's once in a lifetime experience. I really feel bad for them. For basketball guys it's not as difficult. I talked with [U.S. head coach Greg Popovich] yesterday. It's postponed, obviously not cancelled, postponed until some time next spring or summer. There's a lot of questions there. They could do it late spring, when you might not have NBA players. If they did it in the summer maybe you do have NBA players. We have to wait for the IOC to make those decisions. 

"For us personally (at Villanova), it's kind of crazy because we thought we came up with this great plan. I was going to have to leave our offseason program for the Olympics. We had a plan to work around that, and now it doesn't matter. We'll be here in June and July. Now we don't even know if the players will be here. We worked so hard to put this plan in place for me being away and now it doesn't even matter."

Phillies season on hold

A Bucks County native, Wright is a huge Philadelphia sports fan. He had Phillies season tickets as a kid and is a regular at Citizens Bank Park during the summer months. Like all Phillies fans, he's disappointed the baseball season isn't starting this week.

"The end of the basketball season was always sobering," Wright said. "But what always saved us was the start of the Phillies. Opening Day and the start of baseball season in our family is a big deal. 

"We watch the spring training games, we'll even joke, 'Who do the Phillies play tonight?' It's really surreal. Spring time without baseball, especially the Phillies, is bizarre. It's really the way myself and my family get ourselves out of basketball mode. We go to Opening Day, we go to the Phillies games, we love 'Bark in the Park', we always bring the dogs. We're really going to miss it."

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