STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - When Cole Fenton played football at Central Mountain High School in Mill Hall, his impressions of volunteer defensive coach Jerry Sandusky were positive.
So Fenton, now a freshman at Pennsylvania State University, was shocked when he first heard the news regarding Sandusky, who served as Penn State's defensive coordinator from 1977 to 1999.
After a multiyear grand jury investigation, Sandusky was arrested Saturday on charges of sex abuse of eight minors from 1994 to 2009. Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz were charged with perjury in relation to the investigation. Head football coach Joe Paterno was not charged with any wrongdoing.
The news rocked the Penn State community, with feelings ranging from extreme surprise to sadness.
"I'm deeply saddened at the news and the poor light that this could cast on a great institution," said Jason Mattia, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association.
"Everyone is taken aback by the allegations made by the attorney general, and they're very serious ones," said State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R., Centre), a Penn State alumnus. "But this is Day Two in a story that will take a while to unfold. ... We don't know what may be accurate or not, and I wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions."
Corman, who is also on the board of Second Mile, a charity dedicated to helping children with absent or dysfunctional families that Sandusky founded, said it would be premature to call for any legislative committee hearings while the legal process is unfolding. He also said he would wait for a review of the handling of the accusations.
"I've heard what's been going on, and I like coach [Sandusky] personally," said Fenton, a native of Lock Haven. "I've never gotten that impression of him at all. He was always a good coach and he knew what he was doing. It's kind of disappointing, but I liked him as a person."
Before Sandusky left the Central Mountain coaching staff in 2010, Fenton said, he spoke to the players and alerted them of the situation.
"He didn't go very much in detail, but he said he was accused of things that were not true and he wanted to keep it strictly to himself," said Fenton, who described Sandusky as an "all-around good guy."
Tracey Edouard, a junior at Penn State, said she was disappointed in the news and added that it "soils" the university's image. Edouard said she did not know who Sandusky was until recently.
"I have a lot of school spirit so I was completely in shock," she said. "Our motto is 'Success with honor.' I was just like, 'It can't be true.' I've always thought we represent what's right, what's ethical, and stuff like that."
Joel Hart, a class of 1968 graduate, expressed disbelief and said he hopes Sandusky is not guilty of the charges. Hart was relieved to hear Paterno seemed to be in the clear and added that if Paterno retires after this season, he hopes the charges have nothing to do with his decision. Penn State's football team was not scheduled to play Saturday.
"It's a sad day for Penn State," Hart said. "I think it will be a temporary distraction to the Penn State football team and certainly put a black eye on Penn State. But we'll just have to live through it."
Contact staff writer Jake Kaplan at email@example.com.