Jul 12, 2012
Wendell, N.C. — A scathing report that Penn State leaders hushed up child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky saddened Triangle residents who played for and cheered on legendary coach Joe Paterno for years.
The 267-page internal report released Thursday alleges that Paterno, the university president and two other administrators failed to take any steps against Sandusky, allowing him to prey on other boys for years.
"St. Joe is no longer St. Joe," Penn State alumnus Wayne Nickola, of Wendell, said.
"This one mistake is very large. It's a very big deal," said Quinn Barham, a graduate of Durham's Hillside High School who played under Paterno. "My heart goes out to the victims of this situation."
Penn State fans said they appreciated former FBI Director Louis Freeh's work to expose the extent of a severe problem.
"He named names. He was no coward," Wayne Nickola said.
"I cried when I heard the coach may have known more than what we thought he did, because of the children," his wife, Peggy Nickola, said.
As a senior at Penn State, Barham had the difficult task of leading the football team as captain last fall when the sex abuse accusations broke and Paterno was ousted as coach. Barham said he hopes people also remember the coach's contributions.
"You can't take away what he did for the university and what he did for lots of men, thousands of young men over the years," he said.
Barham said he got to meet some of the school's new leaders, including football coach Bill O'Brien, this spring and believes the school can move forward.
"With the right people in the right places, they'll definitely have Penn State moving in the right direction," he said.
The Nikolas said it will take a while for their family to heal from this scandal at their alma mater.
"I think the healing began when we saw Sandusky go into that police car in handcuffs," Peggy Nickola said.