Sandusky’s return to coaching derailed by failed background check

Hoping to coach football again, Jerry Sandusky failed a background check last year because he did not disclose he was being investigated for child abuse, CBS 21 News Sports Director Jason Bristol has learned.
Juniata College confirms to CBS 21 News that Sandusky had applied for a volunteer football coaching position in May 2010; but was not hired, partly because he failed to mention he was the subject of an investigation at Central Mountain High School in Clinton County.

“You failed to include this information on the background verification form that you filled out at the time of your interview,” the school wrote in a rejection letter to Sandusky.

Sandusky was a volunteer football coach at Central Mountain, as well; but was barred from the school after a student’s mother claimed her son was sexually assaulted by Sandusky and reported it. The alleged victim is commonly referred to as Victim 1 in the state’s Grand Jury report.

Sandusky is charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse and prosecutors allege he met his victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977 to help at-risk children. Sandusky, 67, denies being a pedophile and has vowed to fight the charges.

Juniata College is Division III college located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, roughly halfway between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. It was one of Sandusky’s first coaching stops — way back in 1967 — before he became a legendary defensive coach at Penn State.

After being denied a position, Juniata College said its provost and former athletic director informed then-head football coach Carmen Felus that Sandusky could not be associated with the school’s football program. However, Sandusky continued to come to practices and games which are open to the public, the school added.

In September 2010, after Sandusky was spotted in the coaches’ press box area during a road game, the school claims the athletic director confronted Sandusky and reinforced the college’s position.

Repeated attempts to reach Felus, now an co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at UT Martin in Martin, Tennessee, were unsuccessful. Calls to Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, were not returned, either.

Although Juniata College officials turned down a request for an on-camera interview, the school’s director of media relations, John Wall, wrote in an email, “We feel the information we’ve supplied accurately describes how Juniata College handled the situation and we feel comfortable standing on our record.”

Incidentally, Juniata College’s football offices are located right next door to the school’s Early Children’s Education Center, which hosts preschool and early intervention programs.

Students at Juniata are also pleased with how their college handled the situation.

“One of my professors told me a couple of weeks ago that he knew that (Sandusky) came here and applied for a job and the school had done its due diligence and did a background check,” said Riley Downs, a senior at Juniata College.

“I was pretty proud of us; to know that we did the right thing.”

The college also confirmed to CBS 21 News that Sandusky gave the Eagles football team a motivational speech in August 2009, Felus’ first year as head coach. Felus resigned in March 2011 to go to UT Martin and finished with a record of 1-19 in two seasons at Juniata.

Felus said Sandusky’s involvement with the team’s coaches in the press box at a September 25, 2010 game at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., was no big deal. “Jerry and I are friends, but there’s no official … tie to Juniata,” Felus told the Lancaster New Era that day. “He just happened to be at the game.”

But Franklin & Marshall John Troxell later provided a different interpretation to the paper. “Carmen said [Sandusky] is doing a great job in consulting and getting back into the Xs and Os. I think he’s helped tremendously in terms of giving Carmen someone to bounce ideas off of.”

Reported by: Jason Bristol

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