February 11, 2013, 9:53 pm
The Nike co-founder issued a statement backing former Penn State legend Joe Paterno, and criticizing former FBI director Louis Freeh's report on assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Initially Knight said he was saddened by Paterno's missteps involving Sanduskys abuse of 10 children over 15 years. Knight called it "heartbreaking". Some of those attacks happened at Penn State facilities. But now the Portland native says he may have jumped to conclusions, following the release of an investigation commissioned by the Paterno family. The critique was carried out by a former U.S. attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania, Dick Thornburgh. Knight released the statement Monday critizing the NCAA's sanctions of Penn State's football program, and calling the Freeh report "unjustified and unsubstantiated". Sandusy, 69, is serving a 30 to 60-year prison sentence.
"When this tragic story first unfolded Joe cautioned all of us to slow down and carefully gather the facts before jumping to conclusions," Knight said in the statement. "We owed it to the victims, he said, to get to the truth. It was counsel we all should have followed."
Knight spoke at Paternos funeral, who died shortly after allegations came to light. Knight removed his name off the Joe Paterno Development Center at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton.
"The NCAA acted outside its charter and rendered judgment absent any kind of investigation or judicial hearing. It was simply grandstanding," Knight said.
An NCAA spokeswoman said the organization stood by its previous statements and declined to comment Sports Illustrated on Sunday.