Greg Schiano was set to become the next head football coach at Tennessee until Volunteer fans erupted in protest on Sunday.
While some said the current Ohio State defensive coordinator’s record as a head coach at Rutgers and in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the reason for their displeasure, what gained the most attention was outrage over an allegation from unsealed court depositions that Schiano may have known about an incident of child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky.
Tennessee backed out of the deal following the protests, which included someone spray painting ‘Schiano covered up child rape at Penn State,’ on The Rock on the Knoxville campus.
There’s little to back up that accusation.
The Rock on UT’s campus. pic.twitter.com/aG3BXrkKOW
— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) November 26, 2017
Schiano was a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1990 and defensive backs coach for the Nittany Lions from 1991-1995 while Sandusky was defensive coordinator. Twenty years after Schiano left Penn State, former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary — who was not on staff at the same time as Schiano — was deposed in Penn State’s civil suit with its insurer over who was responsible for settlement payments to Sandusky accusers.
In his deposition in the civil case, which was unsealed with hundreds of pages of documents in July 2016, McQueary said that in the mid-2000s, years after he reported it to Penn State officials, he told defensive coordinator Tom Bradley about the 2001 incident in which he says he saw Sandusky abusing a boy in a locker room shower. Bradley, McQueary said, told him he had heard a few similar reports, including one from Schiano in the early 90s.
McQueary claimed that he briefly discussed what he witnessed with Bradley, who had been on the Penn State staff since 1979 and succeeded Sandusky as defensive coordinator after the 1999 season.
“He said he knew of some things,” McQueary testified. “He said another assistant coach had come to him in the early 90s about a very similar situation to mine, and he said that he had — someone had come back to him as far back as the early 80s about seeing Jerry doing something with a boy.”
McQueary said Bradley identified the early 90s assistant as Schiano.
Asked if Bradley said what Schiano reported, McQueary replied, ‘No, only that he had — I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning, but that Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower. And that’s it. That’s all he ever told me.”
The allegation was never mentioned in McQueary’s grand jury testimony, Sandusky’s trial, the trial of former Penn State President Graham Spanier — who is appealing a child endangerment conviction — or the trial for McQueary’s civil suit against Penn State.
Schiano was never charged with a crime, and state prosecutors said they looked into claims that assistant coaches may have been aware of Sandusky’s abuse and found them to be ‘double and triple hearsay and of no value.’
Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report on the Penn State-commissioned investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Sandusky scandal. He also has never been deposed or called to testify in any criminal or civil cases.
When the McQueary deposition became public, Schiano denied any knowledge of abuse by Sandusky.
‘I never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse, during my time at Penn State,’ he told ESPN.
Bradley also denied ever being aware of abuse by Sandusky.
‘At no time did Tom Bradley ever witness any inappropriate behavior,’ a representative for Bradley said at the time. ‘Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the 80’s and 90’s. He has consistently testified as such. Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident it had already been reported to the University administration years earlier.”
Schiano’s boss, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, defended Schiano when the deposition was made public, telling the Toledo Blade, “There’s no issue as far as I am concerned. I first heard about it several months ago and we had a long talk. I’ve known Greg for 20-some years. I have as much respect for Greg Schiano as I do any person — not just any coach, any person. We had the chat and he told me everything that happened. He stands by his statement and we stand by his statement.”
Meyer again said on Monday, ‘I stand by my coach.’
Bradley was UCLA’s defensive coordinator at the time and then-Bruins head coach Jim Mora came to his defense. ‘I know this about Tom: He is a man of integrity,” Mora told ESPN in 2016. ‘He’s been vetted by a number of different people as well as UCLA — very, very thoroughly. It took us a long time to hire him because our university takes these things very seriously. So we went through the process of vetting his background and his stories and he made a statement and he stands by that statement and I stand by him. I feel comfortable with that.”
Though the deal to become the Volunteers’ head coach fell through, on Monday, Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie said that Schiano was ‘carefully interviewed and vetted,’ including a review of the Freeh report and discussions with Ohio State.
Currie’s statement said in part:
‘I have followed Coach Schiano’s accomplishments throughout his career and have been fortunate to get to know him and his family over the last several years. As reported by the media, he was a leading candidate for our position. Among the most respected professional and college football coaches, he is widely regarded as an outstanding leader who develops tough, competitive teams and cares deeply about his student-athletes.
‘We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions. He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures.
‘Coach Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990-1995. Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh. Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. I know that Coach Schiano will continue to have great success in his coaching career and wish him and his family well.’