PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Joe Paterno is a beloved figure at Penn State, but the Sandusky scandal has sullied his reputation and legacy.

“Joe has a legacy that is always going to be tarnished,” Attorney William Caroselli said.

CNN reports that an independent investigation probing how the university handled the Sandusky allegations is looking deeper into the scope of Paterno’s power, specifically a series of emails by the former head of student affairs Vicky Triponey who said Paterno thwarted her attempts to discipline football players.

“Coach Paterno would rather we NOT inform the public when a football player is found responsible for committing a serious violation of the law and/or our student code — despite any moral or legal obligation to do so.”

Frustrated, Triponey quit after university officials apparently failed to back her up, bolstering the impression that Paterno had unbridled power at Penn State.

“And there’s not much question about it,” Caroselli said. “Paterno had the final say.”

Caroselli says the Triponey emails, originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, may have bearing on future civil suits against Penn State, which accuse the university of inaction after graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno of that now infamous shower incident involving Sandusky and a young boy.

According to another series of emails, the university officials were going to report Sandusky to the state Department of Welfare, but decided to handle the matter internally after speaking with Paterno.

In an email former athletic director Tim Curley wrote:

“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday — I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.”

But others say the emails give only a partial and perhaps jaded picture of Paterno and his role.

The head of the Greater Pittsburgh Penn State Alumni Association declined comment, saying he’ll await the release of the full report which may be released as early as next week.

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