Governor Tom Corbett couldn't quite bring himself to say definitively that former Penn State president Graham Spanier should be charged with obstruction of justice for blocking investigators probing the Sandusky scandal.
But you could tell from his body language and his tone that he wanted to say it, and you could tell he firmly believes it.
“I don't want to step on the toes of Attorney General Linda Kelly,” Corbett said. “It's her call.”
But Corbett was not concerned about bruising Spanier's toes. During a Capitol area press conference he made a case for why charges may or should be forthcoming against the ousted president who is still employed by the university.
Corbett jumped at the opportunity to comment on why Louis Freeh's private sleuths were able to find incriminating e-mails when professional law enforcement investigators could not.
“Their [Penn State's] cooperation was incomplete,” Corbett said sternly.
He then read from a Dauphin County court filing that shows attorney general investigators issued a subpoena for documents such as those e-mails. That was long before Freeh was hired by the university's board of trustees. The e-mails were not turned over.
“It was not initially provided by Penn State University when it was subpoenaed by the attorney general's office,” Corbett said.
He also pointed out that Freeh investigated under the Rodney Erickson administration, which Corbett called “open.” He said Spanier was less open and may pay the price.
“The prior administration, they made decisions as to how they would deliver and what they would deliver and I'm sure that is the subject of much discussion on the 16th floor of Strawberry Square,” he said. The attorney general's office is on the 16th floor of Strawberry Square.
Corbett made a point of distinguishing between Penn State, which he calls a world-class institution, and the handful of administrators accused of covering up Sandusky's crimes. He worries that the school is being painted with a broad-brush – too broad.
“Reputations are very hard to recover after they have taken a hit such as this,” Corbett said.
Corbett reiterated that he couldn't talk to the board of trustees, of which he's now a member, while the Sandusky case was active, but he said he intends to have discussions about how the school should move forward in the wake of the scandal. He said he'll share most of his recommendations with trustees before sharing them with the media.
He did offer this: “I think this again calls for the fact that we need more Right to Know access to documents at these universities,” he said.
Corbett wouldn't weigh in on the issue of the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium. He did say he hopes the NCAA thinks long and hard about hitting the football team with the so-called “death penalty” that would shut down the Penn State football program.
“I'm not gonna get into the business of the NCAA,” he said. “I would say their decisions are going to have ramifications, not just for the university, but for entire state and region around the university.”