In the Lions’ Den: The Penn State Scandal and a Rush to Judgment

Gryphon. Sept. 2022. 512p. ISBN 9798985699494. $24.95. MEMOIR
With this riveting memoir, former Penn State Univ. president Spanier recounts his experiences surrounding his resignation in November 2011 as the Jerry Sandusky scandal unfolded. After Sandusky was indicted on dozens of counts related to child sexual abuse, the attention of the Pennsylvania attorney general and governor turned to accusations of a cover-up by Penn State administrators after a 2001 incident, which they claimed allowed Sandusky to continue abusing children for years. Spanier thoroughly recounts developments after his resignation, including the firing of Joe Paterno, the longtime and beloved football coach, Spanier’s own grand jury testimony and that of two high-ranking Penn State administrators, and the charges brought against them. The author refutes the highly disputed report prepared by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which was influential in leading Penn State to accept extraordinary NCAA sanctions in 2012. Using evidence obtained through freedom of information laws and other sources, the author documents how many of his accusers have since been discredited and makes a convincing case of his innocence. Full disclosure: this reviewer worked at Penn State while Spanier was president.
VERDICT A compulsively readable memoir about one of the most inflammatory recent scandals in higher education.
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