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Penn State
Paterno gets bothered by questions

Sunday, April 27, 2003

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Penn State Coach Joe Paterno spent a good portion of his news conference yesterday fielding questions about some of the off-the-field problems that have plagued his team in the off-season.

Paterno and university president Graham Spanier disagree about the way Paternpo handled Anwar Phillips, a freshman defensive back who was allowed to play in the Capital One Bowl after accepting university punishment for an alleged sexual assault of a female student on campus in December.

On April 13, some Penn State players were present during a fight that sent a Penn State wrestler to the hospital with facial injuries that kept him out of a national meet. Police are investigating the incident, but there is speculation that some Penn State players were involved in the altercation.

Three players were held out of yesterday's Blue-White scrimmage for reasons other than injury. They were linebacker T.C. Cosby, fullback Paul Jefferson and wide receiver Gerald Smith.

"I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen with the incidents," Paterno said. "As a result, I'm trying to be fair to both sides of the situation. I don't think it's fair for me to say this or that because it might affect public opinion on one side of it."

Paterno scolded reporters for persistent questioning on the matters and refused to answer some questions. He then told assembled members of the media that they are missing the real story.

"Of all the years I've been at Penn State, I don't think I've ever been more excited about a weekend than I am this week," Paterno said. "We're going to announce [last night] that we raised over $1.3 billion ...

"I pick up the paper [Friday]. Actually, the wife shoves it under my nose. Here's supposedly a highly intelligent editor, and I get a [editorial] telling me not to play kids in a scrimmage. Is that the biggest thing on his mind? We got guys dying in Baghdad. We're trying to get that straight. I would have thought, 'Boy oh boy, congratulations Penn State. Congratulations to the athletic department for creating such a great environment.' [The media] don't know what the story is yet. I was disappointed. Penn State raised $1.3 billion. That ought to be the story."

Paterno said the incidents have not had a negative effect on his team.

"Unfortunately, we may have a better understanding of the significance of the off-the-field incidents," he said. "One way or the other, it might be different from the media. So I don't think it really had much of an impact."

As for his disagreement with Spanier, Paterno made it clear he will not be swayed by Spanier's stance on matters when it involves members of his team.

Phillips' criminal case is scheduled to go to trial this summer.

"The president is entitled to his opinion," Paterno said. "I think the president has every right to say what he thinks. That doesn't mean that anything anybody says can change my opinion, right or wrong. That's not to say my opinion was right or wrong. He's has a tougher job than I do."

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