STATE COLLEGE, Pa. A day after interim football coach Tom Bradley said wide receivers coach Mike McQueary would be working at Beaver Stadium for Saturdays game against Nebraska, acting Penn State president Rodney Erickson placed the embattled coach on indefinite, paid administrative leave.
McQueary, an eye-witness to the alleged 2002 incident where Jerry Sandusky sexually abused a young boy when he was a graduate assistant, was going to coach Saturdays game from the press box. He also attended the teams practice on Thursday afternoon. However, because of multiple threats, the university announced that McQueary would not attend the game.
Now, no one is sure when McQueary will return.
It became clear he could not coach under these circumstances, Erickson said.
When asked why McQueary was not fired, Erickson said, There are complexities to that issue I'm not prepared to go into.
Meanwhile, Dave Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, reported that McQueary told his receivers during a conference call he was in protective custody and not in State College. Sports Sports Information Director Jeff Nelson later said McQueary was not in protective custody and it was likely an attempt at a joke that fell flat.
Jones also reported McQueary told his receivers he was done as a coach at Penn State. (See story)
On Friday, The Associated Press reported Board of Trustee member Boyd Wolff said there are special circumstances involving McQueary.
He's a witness, Wolff told The AP. Hes different from the others, so he has to be treated differently.
Those statements give credence to the speculation that McQueary did not lose his job along with disgraced former football coach Joe Paterno this week because he is a protected as a whistleblower witness. (See story.)
Meanwhile, in his first press conference as president of Penn State, Erickson addressed the culture at the school, admitting that some may have been too afraid to come forward to report the abuse alleged to have been committed by Sandusky.
Never again should anyone at Penn State feel scared to do the right thing, the president said, adding that the Board has launched a special investigation into the scandal and will make all findings public.
Erickson admitted there had been discussions whether the school should continue its football season, but he said the home finale will be used to heighten awareness of child abuse. Additionally, the president said there will be an increased police presence on campus Friday night as well as during Saturdays football game that will attract more than 100,000 fans.
We believe that there will be an opportunity through the game tomorrow and provide a moment in time where we can really focus on the tragedy of sexual abuse, Erickson said. Also, it would not be fair to the student-athletes who were not involved in this situation.
Penn State also will play its final two road games during the regular season, though its status for the Big Ten championship andor a postseason bowl game will be addressed.
I certainly wouldnt want to comment on that at this point, Erickson said. Well wait and see at the appropriate time. At this point, I think the expectation would be that where they deserve to play, they will play.
Paterno welcome to attend game
Erickson said there were no plans to honor Paterno in the near future. He added that Paterno could attend Saturdays game like any other private citizen.
He left a tremendous legacy at Penn State over many years, Erickson said of Paterno. Im sure, in due course, the university will find a way to recognize that, but now is not the right time to get into any of that.
The last time Penn State played a football game in which Paterno was not a member of the coaching staff was Nov. 19, 1949 when it lost to Pittsburgh, 19-0. The last time a home game was played at Penn State without Paterno was Oct. 29, 1949. That 33-21 victory over Syracuse was played at what was called, New Beaver Field.
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org.