Nike's Phil Knight releases statement supporting Joe Paterno

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

Nike co-founder Phil Knight is back on Joe Paterno's side.

Knight issued a statement Monday following the release of the Paterno family's rebuttal to the Freeh Report on Sunday.

"Last July I was surprised and saddened by the Freeh Report and the subsequent press conference held by the former FBI Director," said Knight in the release. "In response to the shocking findings, which were so definitively and passionately presented, and based on the reputation of Louis Freeh, I issued a statement which said in part, 'According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day.'

"I made this statement without having read the report in full. When I later took the time to do so, I was surprised to learn that the alarming allegations, which so disturbed the nation, were essentially theories and assertions rather than solid charges backed by solid evidence. On reflection I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment."

Knight went on to call findings in the Freeh Report "unjustified and unsubstantiated" while saying the NCAA's actions were "totally unwarranted" and the NCAA "was simply grandstanding."

Knight had been a longtime supporter of Joe Paterno and even spoke at a memorial for the late former Penn State coach last January before changing course following the release of the Freeh Report.

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