Former Penn State President Graham Spanier to promote his book on the Sandusky scandal in a campus appearance

In the introduction to his memoir, Graham Spanier summarized his life as president of Penn State University until his world collapsed around him in November 2011.

He said, “I’ve been in everything.” “It should not be a secret that I miss my job.”

Not that he has become a stranger to the place. In fact, Wednesday will be Spanier’s fourth appearance at University Park since September to promote his book, “In the Lion’s Den: A Penn State Scandal and a Dash to Judgment.” It serves as his side of the infamous Jerry Sandusky story.

But this campus look will be different.

Unlike previous book signings at the alumni gates outside Beaver Stadium, his library event at the HUB-Robeson Center will put the 74-year-old State College student in front of an audience in the heart of campus, just a short walk from Old Main and the President’s office he held for two years. 16 years old.

Many alumni and others who suffered the fallout from the Sandusky scandal still feel intense feelings.

But increasingly, Penn State is populated by college students who were in elementary school when Sandusky, the former assistant football coach for the Nittany Lions, was indicted on November 5, 2011, and later convicted of sexually assaulting several boys — rocking the campus. and the sports world and nation.

The book is not about the guilt or innocence of Sandusky, someone Spanier says he hardly knows. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison.

Instead, Spanier asserts that he and others, including the late football coach Joe Paterno, were unfairly smeared by “a corrupt criminal justice system, political revenge and revenge, moral panic, and the influence of a twisted media narrative.”

In an email response to questions Friday, Spanier said he helps tell the truth about what he says are lies spun by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who investigated the case, politicians and others.

Spanier says he has held about 30 memoir-related events in Pennsylvania and elsewhere—many in bookstores—and they have been well received in venues from Des Moines, Iowa, to Silver City, New Mexico.

“I have no desire to prolong the trauma that has lingered for so many Penn Staters 11 years ago, but in the … emails that I continue to receive daily, it is clear that the book was important in setting the record straight for thousands of people,” Spanier said. Ben Staters has never accepted the false narrative spread by Louis Freeh, prosecutors and others.”

Spanier was convicted of misdemeanor child endangerment over the school’s handling of the 2001 incident, and served 58 days of his two-month prison sentence in addition to house arrest. He insists he was unaware that Sandusky had molested children, and said the report of Sandusky showering a boy called him a “horse”.

Many sided with him when the anger erupted, Spanier said, but many did not, despite his quarter-century career as a faculty member and principal.

He said, “The institutional side of my university, which I have served faithfully and ably for more than 25 years, and to my dismay even a few of my closest colleagues have distanced themselves from me.”

Penn State had no immediate comment on Spanier’s scheduled appearance at the HUB from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, which it said is being hosted by University Park Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Sydney Gibbard, a Penn State student and president of the Park University Student Association, said her peers had mixed feelings.

“I think a lot of students are tired of the book signing and uncomfortable with how much publicity this event will draw toward Penn State and toward Graham Spanier himself, especially because our school has really tried to move on from the Sandusky case over the past few years,” Gibbard said.

She added, “However, there is certainly a significant number of students who do not know much about Penn State history and may not be affected by it on campus.”

“I wholeheartedly support Dr. Spanier’s efforts to share his story. I think it’s an important story,” he said. “I welcome his appearance.”

A Spanier’s diary was published in early September. Spanier said the first batch of 5,500 books has sold out, and a second printing is being considered.

The Spanier is also scheduled to appear from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Altoona Barnes & Noble Penn State Library. Future appearances in South Carolina and Florida are scheduled through mid-February.

Spanier works as a consultant in national and international security, intelligence and risk management. He retains the titles of Honorary President and Professor Emeritus and says he is still active in university causes and plays racquetball on campus.

A sociologist and family therapist, he was once among the nation’s most prominent higher-education figures, serving as leader of a public land-grant university with 100,000 students and 45,000 employees on more than two dozen campuses.

He presided over national assemblies, advised US presidents and was a respected voice on issues of the time, from funding higher education to illegal music downloads and college drinking.

He straddled the line between the sober world of academia, where he wrote 10 books and was a scholar of family issues, and his college life as an extraordinary president who advised the Penn State performing magicians, did one-armed push-ups in a Nittany Lion mascot costume and — as his 53rd birthday approached — ran with Bulls in Pamplona, ​​Spain, in July 2001.

Sandusky was charged with 48 counts of child sexual abuse and convicted of 45. Two other senior administrators were charged in connection with their handling of the matter.

The officials, including Spanier, considered telling authorities about a reported 2001 incident at a group shower, but instead took other measures including banning the former coach from bringing children onto campus.

Then an email from Spanier noted that “the only downside for us is if the message is not ‘heard’ and acted upon, then we are at risk of not reporting it.”

Spanier notes that Sandusky was found not guilty of the 2001 incident. Spanier writes in the introduction to his book that the situation was “allegedly reported to Joe Paterno and … (ultimately) to me.”

Spanier added, “Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was totally oblivious in the media storm surrounding the announcement. It wouldn’t be long before I was sucked into the nightmare even though I’d only had one conversation with Sandusky in my life.”

Bill Shackner is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can reach out to Bill via email at bschackner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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