"If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers," Paterno said in the statement.
But Happy Valley has always been different, where the program boasts the slogan "Success with Honor."
"Can they say 'Success with Honor' anymore?" asked Rebecca Durst, owner of Rinaldo's Barber Shop, a fixture in State College since 1926.
At a news conference, Noonan and state Attorney General Linda Kelly were peppered with questions about whether Paterno was given details about what graduate assistant Mike McQueary — now the team's wide receivers coach — saw on the night of March 1, 2002.
Paterno has referred to his grand jury testimony in which he testified that he was informed by a graduate assistant that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of the team locker room. Prosecutors have said Paterno passed on the information to Curley.
But Paterno said specific actions alleged to have occurred in the grand jury report were not relayed to him.
"It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report," Paterno said in the statement. "Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators."
Whether that was enough was being debated on campus and across "Happy Valley," where pride in the Nittany Lions is as deep as it is fierce.
"People were talking about having JoePa step down, making Facebook sites about it," Mac Frederick, a Penn State senior from Chambersburg, Pa., said as he ate at The Diner, just across street from campus. "I don't think that's really necessary. It's obvious some individuals tried to cover the story up, but I don't know if JoePa knew much about it."
Alex Fakhraee, 19, of Ambler, Pa., said it might be time for the 84-year-old Paterno to go. But his concerns have more to do with the direction of the program under JoePa's leadership than the scandal.
"I'm sure it's going to affect our image in some way," Fakhraee said outside the union. "From what I know, he knew about it and he reported it. After that I feel it's not his obligation. He's just here to coach the football team."
Others were more critical.
"If he cared, he would have said something 10 years ago," Joshua Daly said as he dined with a friend at Champs Sports Bar and Grill in State College. "He's as guilty as anybody. He knew about it ... no one called the police."
Paterno has won 409 games, the Division I record, along with two national titles. He has an impeccable record of focusing on academics as well as athletics — it's the Penn State library, not an athletic building, that is named for Paterno and his wife Sue.
But that doesn't absolve him of responsibility, said Lori Schope, who cuts hair at Rinaldo's.
"Anybody that says they knew about it and didn't do anything about it," she said, "is complicit."
Former Penn State safety Byron Scott, now with the Buffalo Bills, believes Paterno's legacy is strong enough to withstand the current turmoil.
Much like JoePa's show on Tuesday afternoon, the rock-solid program may never be quite the same.
"It's sickening, shocking. It's very saddening," said Scott, who played for Penn State from 1999-2002 and roomed with Sandusky's son one year. "Hopefully it's not true. And, if it is, man, it's just bad."
AP writers Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy in Harrisburg; Nancy Armour in State College; and John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed.
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