On July 12, the results of an independent investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh found that the leadership at Penn State had known about and covered up acts of sexual assault by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. At the center of the decision to do nothing, the report found, was the legendary coach Joe Paterno.
In the wake of the Freeh report, the university decided to remove Paterno's statue from outside the football stadium. The NCAA instituted harsh sanctions on the university and nullified 111 victories under Paterno's leadership.
A new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reveals that the events changed minds about the school and its football program, at least as measured by the conversation on the social platform Twitter. But it did nothing to alter the balance of views about Paterno. And as the dust settled, while his legacy was divided, Paterno was discussed more favorably on Twitter than the school or the football program.
Before the Freeh report (from June 23 through July11) 42% of the conversation about Paterno was positive while 58% was negative. After the report (in the period from July 12-23), those talking about Paterno seemed hardly to budge in their views; 44% of the conversation was positive and 56% was negative. Many supporters argued that the statue of Paterno outside the football stadium should stay up and mourned when it was taken down on July 22.
Read the full report, On Twitter, Verdict on Paterno Unchanged by Freeh Report, NCAA, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism website.