Paterno acknowledges part in incident; cops find no violation
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- An exchange of words with another motorist on a campus road was blown out of proportion by Internet-fueled rumors and media speculation, Penn State coach Joe Paterno said Thursday night.
The motorist complained to university police about Paterno's conduct after the Oct. 5 incident. No charges were filed.
Paterno, on his weekly radio show Thursday night, said the incident happened after he noticed a car had driven through a stop sign.
Later, when the person stopped, "I blew my horn at the person. ... Then I pulled up beside her because there was nothing coming the other way," Paterno told listeners. "I pointed my finger at her ... and I said, 'Boy, you went through that sign.'"
Paterno said he told the driver, "'Don't do that again, because I took your license number.' And I really hadn't taken her license number. All of a sudden, somebody knocks on my window. I put the window down, and he says, 'That's my wife.'"
Paterno said he responded to the driver's husband, "Boy, that's your problem" -- though he later regretted saying that.
Paterno said he addresses safety issues with students when he sees a concern on campus.
"I must do that 10 times a year, because I think students have a disregard for safety," he said.
He said he was angered by rumors -- which first surfaced on Internet message boards -- calling the incident "road rage" or saying that he used profanity.
"I really resent the whole thing. I don't even know the names of the people who accused me of it," Paterno said on the radio show.
He also said he was angry with some recent print and broadcast media reports about the incident.
"Very, very resentful of the media who are out in left field, because it's not fair," he said. "I'm not the greatest guy in the world. I make a lot of mistakes, and they want to second-guess my coaching. But gee, when I was doing what I thought was helpful. ... Now it's a national event."
A story in Thursday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that Paterno told the Penn State Quarterback Club that he pulled over and got out of his car and approached the other vehicle -- contrary to his comments on his weekly radio show.
The weekly luncheon is considered off the record and isn't open to the media. The Post-Gazette cited multiple sources who attended the luncheon for its information.
According to a police log reviewed by The Associated Press, a staff member reported just after noon Oct. 5 that "a male driver committed a traffic violation and acted in a disorderly manner." University police do not release names in cases in which no charges are filed.
Penn State vice president Bill Mahon told the AP earlier this week that the chief of police, Steve Shelow, had told him that the case was closed and that no citations were issued.
"We talked to both drivers. We weren't able to see anything that met a traffic citation or criminal citation," assistant police chief Tyrone Parham said Thursday, without confirming the identity of the driver who was the target of the complaint.
During a news conference earlier this week, Paterno grew agitated with questions about off-the-field problems surrounding his team. A reporter asked Paterno to comment on speculation the coach himself "might have been involved in something," to which Paterno replied, "Come on, let's go."
The traffic incident occurred the same day that Paterno suspended tailback Austin Scott for violating an undisclosed team rule.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report
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