The family issued a statement Tuesday in which it said that while Paterno was a "tough, aggressive, opinionated and demanding" coach who was "highly principled" and "uncompromisingly ethical," he was neither a saint nor a villain, the Centre Daily Times reported:
The family, which also released a statement it said Paterno was working on before his death, said the longtime coach wanted to tell everything he knew but before that could happen university officials ordered him to cancel a news conference, the legal process took precedence and he developed lung cancer that took his life.
"The hiring of the Freeh group is the single most important action the Board of Trustees has taken," the family's statement said. "Joe supported this decision with the hope that it would result in a thorough, balanced and thoughtful assessment of the Sandusky tragedy. Unfortunately, recent events have raised questions about the fairness and confidentiality of the investigative process. Over the last several weeks there has been a virtual torrent of leaks about the Freeh Group's work. To be clear, we do not know the source, or sources, of the leaks. What cannot be disputed, however, is that select e-mails intended to smear Joe Paterno and other former Penn State officials have been released.
"The board promised a fair, transparent and impartial process. These developments are a threat to their stated objectives."
The family members expressed disappointment that they were not allowed "a reasonable time" to review the Freeh investigators' findings before their scheduled release Thursday and offer information "that could help complete the picture."
The family called Sandusky, Paterno's longtime assistant who was convicted of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys, was "a master deceiver."
"He fooled players, coaches, law enforcement officials, child service professionals, Penn State board members, university leaders, neighbors, donors, staff and supporters of [his charity] Second Mile and his family," the family said.
The family defended Paterno against reports that an e-mail from now-suspended Penn State Athletics Director Tim Curley "is proof of some sort of coverup."
"When the facts come out, it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions," they said.
If Paterno were alive, they said, he "would accept his responsibility, but he would expect others to step forward as well."
The Daily Times said a spokesman for the family said prior to his death in January Paterno had been working on a statement in which he extolled the virtues and accomplishments of the Penn State football program and academics over the past five decades and lashed out at university officials who denigrated it.
"Nothing that has been alleged in any way implicates that reputation; rather, it is only the inexplicable comments of our own administration doing so. It must stop," Paterno wrote. "This is not a football scandal and should not be treated as one. It is not an academic scandal and does not in any way tarnish the hard-earned and well-deserved academic reputation of Penn State. That Penn State officials would suggest otherwise is a disservice to every one of the over 500,000 living alumni."