Freeh probe into Penn State in the Sandusky case will focus on more than Joe Paterno

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Contrary to suggestions made in recent leaks to the media, the findings in Louis Freeh's investigation into Penn State's culpability in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case aren't going to focus simply on former football coach Joe Paterno and the culture of the Nittany Lion program.

According to a source, "everyone" is going to be under a harsh microscope, leaving multiple parties across the athletic department and university as a whole open to blame for a series of missteps and failures regarding the university's handling of allegations of sexual assault made against Sandusky, a longtime defensive coordinator under Paterno.

The role of the iconic Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football history, no doubt will be a focus for the media and public. But the expansive, exhaustive investigation by Freeh Group International Solutions, headed by former FBI head Louis Freeh, has delved into all aspects of the situation, a source says. Some 400 interviews were conducted and thousands of pages of documents were reviewed since Penn State's Board of Trustees commissioned the independent investigation in the wake of the November 2011 indictment of Sandusky, then-athletic director Tim Curley and then-vice president Gary Schultz.

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The late Joe Paterno is not the only focus of the Freeh Report on Penn State. (AP)

The report will be released publicly at 9 a.m. Thursday on the website TheFreehReportonPSU.com. Judge Freeh will hold a press conference at 10 a.m in Philadelphia. The school's Board of Trustees is set to meet Friday in Scranton.

A source said investigators looked deep into subjects as varied as the university's standard police and sexual assault reporting practices, including for non-athletes, and spoke to non-Penn State athletic administrators who had interactions with Sandusky in and around his early retirement after the 1999 season. One university employee interviewed by investigators described the questioning as "annoyingly thorough," with little of it dealing specifically with Paterno or the football program.

[Related: Pat Forde: NCAA needs to leave Penn State situation for the courts]

A source reiterated that no one and nothing escapes responsibility. Some Penn State fans already have criticized the commission for engaging in a witch hunt to place undue blame on Paterno, who died in January at age 85 and is unable to defend himself.

The Paterno family, through a spokesman, decried the leaks and questioned the legitimacy of the Freeh investigation.

"With the leaking of selective emails over the last few days, it is clear that someone in a position of authority is not interested in a fair or thorough investigation," a statement from the family read. The Paternos want all emails and documents released to the public.

The Freeh Group will simultaneously make its report available to the Board of Trustees and to the public in an effort to eliminate speculation the Board influenced the findings. At this point, it is believed no one outside the Freeh Group has seen the final report.

Understandably, much of the pre-report attention has centered on Paterno's power within the university, whether he interceded on police and university disciplinary cases involving players throughout his 46 years as head coach and, most critically, his role in a decision made by Curley, Schultz and then-president Graham Spanier to not report Sandusky to child services after a graduate assistant coach said he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a locker room shower in 2001.

Emails reported by CNN suggest Paterno, counter to the spirit of his January 2011 grand jury testimony, was at the very least briefed and possibly played a role in the decision not to report Sandusky to authorities in 2001. And the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that 2007 emails signed by Paterno remind officials that he, and not standard university policy, would handle the discipline for some players involved in a fight.

Those leaks have led to a backlash from fans who fear Paterno will be the fall guy in the ugly, wide-ranging scandal.

Sandusky was convicted last month on 45 counts of sexually abusing boys over a 15-year period. He is currently in Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting sentencing for up to 442 years in state prison. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on failure to report a crime and perjury. The state's attorney general has not ruled out indicting Spanier on similar charges.

Nate Bauer, Rivals editor of BlueWhiteIllustrated.com, contributed to this report.

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