ShareThis Page

Paterno admits he broke rule

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, June 21, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Joe Paterno was taking a leisurely stroll on the Penn State campus last week when he did the unthinkable:

He broke an NCAA rule "without even thinking about it," the longtime Nittany Lions coach said.

Yes, even Paterno can run afoul of the many regulations set forth by college sports' governing body.

Passing by Holuba Hall, where several football players were conducting unsupervised workouts, Paterno stopped to watch for a few minutes without speaking to anyone, he said. Suitably impressed, he returned to his office where he reported to the coaching staff that at least one player had looked good and caught his eye.

"You know you broke a rule?" someone said, pointing out that coaches aren't permitted to watch players working out before the start of practice in August.

Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said the university will report the incident to the NCAA.

"Our compliance office is aware and will relay the circumstances to determine if there was a secondary violation," Nelson said.

Paterno told the story Monday during a taping of the ESPN program "Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski."

Paterno and Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who have coached collegiate sports for a combined 81 seasons, with 1,301 victories and six national titles, were interviewed by ESPN host Rece Davis about their careers and coaching philosophies. The meeting at Eisenhower Auditorium on the Penn State campus marked the first time the two coaching icons had met each other.

The show will air from 8 to 9 p.m. June 30 on ESPN, with additional coverage on ESPNU from 9 to 9:30 p.m.

Paterno's confession was in response to a question from former New York Times sports reporter and current Penn State journalism professor Malcolm Moran about the state of college athletics.

Krzyzewski chastised the NCAA for limiting coaches' access to student-athletes, calling it "unacceptable."

"The NCAA needs to modernize and revamp the system to keep up with the culture that we have now," he said, referring to limitations on text messaging, emailing and Skyping. "The NCAA needs to give us more time to teach.

"You have to be current and realistic and understand these kids want to be taught and communicated with, as opposed to how people communicate now."

Paterno took the opportunity to push for the return to freshman ineligibility and an increase in scholarships. He also said, "I don't want some (recruit) coming here because someone in town bought him a meal."

Most of the more than two-hour session included Paterno and Krzyzewski throwing barbs and compliments at each other.

Krzyzewski said the statue of Paterno, 84, outside Beaver Stadium should be bigger.

"You are one of the only ones who don't want it torn down," Paterno said.

Asked by a member of the audience how it feels to be an icon, Paterno downplayed the significance of the description.

"What's an icon?" he said. "If an icon means you are good-looking and handsome, I like it."

Both coaches have rejected lucrative opportunities to coach in the pros -- Paterno with the Steelers and Patriots and Krzyzewski with the Lakers. Paterno pointed out he thought he could do "more good" in college.

"But money is money," he said, laughing. "I also didn't take a vow of poverty."

Paterno and Krzyzewski stressed the need to adapt to the new generation of student-athletes without compromising their long-held values.

"You want to be flexible but never lose sight of the great ideal," Paterno said.

Krzyzewski added: "After spending an afternoon with (Paterno), he makes sense, and when you make sense, you don't have to adapt."

Additional Information:

Dynamic duo

Here are some career highlights for Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski:


» 45 seasons

» Two national titles

» Five undefeated seasons

» 401 victories (No. 1 among Division I coaches)


» 36 seasons*

» Four national titles

» 11 Final Four appearances

» 900 victories (two short of Bobby Knight's all-time record)

* -- Including six at Army

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.