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Jay Paterno Expects Some Backlash From His New Book

by on July 26, 2014 7:00 AM

Jay Paterno, son of the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, says he expects some backlash regarding his newly released book.

"Everything I've done in my life has been kind of out there in the public...so backlash has been part of the territory," Jay Paterno told StateCollege.com. "I expect it. It's not going to surprise me and it's not going to bother me. ... I wanted to write the truth. If I tried to sugarcoat it and whitewash it and make it 'kumbaya' it wouldn't be honest. ... It's honest and my feelings are in that book and how I felt in the moment."

Jay Paterno's memoir "Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father" hit the shelves of the State College Barnes and Noble bookstore this week. Since then the store sold all 68 copies. It's unclear when the store will have more copies on hand, but the store is taking orders from customers.

In the book, aside from many anecdotes about his father, Jay Paterno shares his thoughts on the university trustees who were close to the family and voted to terminate his father as head coach.

Some of the trustees, who Jay Paterno grew up around, he called out by name. Jay Paterno says he wrote that chapter as the events were happening, while it was fresh and raw, and named certain trustees because he was close to them and found their votes all the more hurtful.

"What I want people to understand is I was expressing my true feelings in that moment and who wouldn't have felt that way given what happened? Do I feel exactly the same about them now? With some of them, I feel better about them now based on how they've handled things since then, and with others I feel worse about them now," says Paterno.

Paterno, a former Penn State assistant football coach, also tackles the university's independent investigation into the Sandusky scandal led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. Paterno says the report wrongly alleges assistant coaches ignored red flags regarding the abuse.

Recently, Paterno and former coach William Kenney filed a lawsuit against Penn State for allegedly failing to honor their employment contracts and for not publicly clearing the coaching staff of any wrongdoing.

"We just want to get that cleared up," Paterno says.

The Paterno family and several other parties are also suing Penn State and the NCAA over unprecedented sanctions the NCAA leveled against the university's football program following the release of the Freeh report.

Jay Paterno says the report also wrongly infers his father was involved in a conspiracy to cover up the Sandusky abuse.

"Prosecutors have repeatedly said he was honest, forthcoming and there is no evidence that he was involved in a cover up," says Jay Paterno.

After Sandusky's indictment, Joe Paterno issued a statement saying, "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.. Jay Paterno says that comment was not an admission of wrongdoing, but to say, "'I wish I could have caught this sooner,' and we all do, and who wouldn't want that?"

When it comes to what Joe Paterno knew regarding the Sandusky child sexual abuse, Jay Paterno says his father first became aware of an issue when Mike McQueary told Joe Paterno he saw Sandusky in the shower with a child. Jay Paterno says his father reported the information to his supervisors, assuming they'd take care of the situation.

"He felt like if there's a problem it's going to be taken care of and they're going to come back to me and tell me it's been taken care of," says Jay Paterno.

Ultimately, Jay Paterno hopes readers see that his father was "first and foremost an educator and winning games wasn't most important to him" and that he was an honorable man.

"His intention was always honorable. Whether or not the end result was what we wanted...there was nothing sinister in him. He believed in the innate goodness of man and lived his life as someone who was innately good," says Jay Paterno.

Paterno, who's doing some consulting work, is working on another book about college football and recruiting, which he says will be fiction that's at least partly based on true events. He's also in talks regarding teaching college courses covering media-related issues.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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