When a report detailing former FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigation of how Penn State handled reports of child sexual abuse involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was released on Thursday morning, it left former Nittany Lions' cornerback Tony Pittman hurt, but not surprised.
“As a Penn Stater, someone who played in the program, played for Jerry, played for Joe [Paterno], it's sad, no matter how you slice it,” Pittman said. “I think this report just underscores...I think a lot of us knew that things could have been done differently.”
The report revealed that the late former head coach Joe Paterno and top administrators failed to protect children from Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse last month, after former graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary reported seeing Sandusky abusing an underage boy in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2001. The report also revealed that Paterno knew about a 1998 incident involving Sandusky and another boy.
Former Penn State linebacker and ESPN college football analyst Matt Millen, who was one of the over 400 people interviewed as part of Freeh's investigation, echoed similar thoughts while vouching for the integrity of the investigation, commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees.
"They were very thorough," Millen said on Sportscenter. "To me it was very fair. I would hope than [Penn State fans] would keep an open mind."
Sandusky was Pittman's defensive coordinator when he started at corner for Paterno's undefeated 1994 squad that ended its season ranked No. 2 in the nation after a victory against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
He's still not sure where the football program will go from here. He said he feels for new head coach Bill O'Brien and current players, noting it was unlike anything he experienced while he was in school. He also acknowledged the looming possibility of an NCAA investigation into the administration's wrongdoing.
"I don't know what to make of this," Pittman said. "Clearly it would be something as far as I understand unprecedented for the NCAA to have to deal with and clearly it's different than a lot of other situations. This is so different that I don't know what the NCAA will try to make of it."
But while there is a lot of uncertainty still surrounding the program, former Penn State All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington feels one thing is clear: Paterno was not the man many, including Arrington, thought he was.
"I think the failure to act in these types of situations is a total contradiction to the standards of how we were taught to be, a total contradiction to what we had to live by," Arrington said on Yahoo! Sports' Wetzel to Forde radio show. "How much do I really know him? I know the coach, just like with Jerry Sandusky, I knew the coaching figure. Looking at this right now with 20-20 hindsight, I didn't know the person."
Arrington acknowledged that in the weeks and months after Paterno was removed as head coach on Nov. 9, 2011, he was one of the late coach's most vocal supporters, but the findings of the Freeh report have changed his view.
Amidst the turmoil, though, Pittman was hopeful this chapter of Penn State history will yield a positive outcome.
"Hopefully on the other side of this, there will be some good to come of it and nothing like this will ever have to happen again anywhere."