PHILADELPHIA - Despite being told he'd failed a background check after he applied to be a volunteer coach at a central Pennsylvania college last year, Jerry Sandusky continued to have contact with the football team, even ramping up his role throughout the season over the protests of the athletic director, school officials said Tuesday.
The retired Penn State assistant attended games at Juniata College and interacted with players on the practice field despite repeated attempts by the then-athletic director to keep him away from the program, school spokesman John Wall said Tuesday.
"As the season progressed, he became more active, giving his opinion, coaching with the coaches," Wall said. "At least one time, a coach remembers him getting on the field and working with players."
Juniata is a Division III school about 20 miles south of State College. Sandusky started his coaching career there with a one-year stint in 1967 after graduating from Penn State.
WHP-TV first reported Sandusky's continued involvement with the program, citing unnamed players who said Sandusky was a regular presence at practices, meetings and games.
Wall said Sandusky worked last season as a consultant for the former head coach, Carmen Felus, despite the rejection letter and two orders from the former athletic director that Sandusky have no contact with the program.
But Sandusky was spotted in the press box during a Sept. 25, 2010, game at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, and Felus was given a third warning by then-athletic director Larry Bock, Wall said.
"It got actually more active toward the end of the season, after this Sept. 25 ultimatum," Wall said.
Felus left Juniata after last season to take a coaching job at the University of Tennessee at Martin. A message left for a school spokesman Tuesday was not immediately returned.
No other red flags were raised about Sandusky's involvement with the football team during the season, said Bock, now the women's volleyball coach at Navy.
Bock recalled that Sandusky had a personal relationship with Felus and had visited the campus a few other times, once to give a motivational talk to the team.
The extent of Sandusky's involvement with the program was not clear until the following semester, Wall said.
Sandusky's application to be a volunteer assistant was denied in June 2010 after a background check revealed that he was under investigation by a high school where he'd previously volunteered, Wall said.
Juniata did not know the details of the investigation, Wall said, only that Sandusky was ineligible to work at the high school.
Ultimately, that investigation led to a pair of grand jury reports that allege Sandusky repeatedly assaulted young boys, including attacks that happened on Penn State's campus and the basement of his State College home.
Sandusky waived a preliminary hearing Thursday. He has acknowledged showering with and embracing young boys but denied sexually assaulting them.
Wall blamed Felus for failing to cut ties with Sandusky as directed.
"We gave our coach three distinct orders to get rid of this guy," he said.
Wall said the school reviewed its communication problems and has taken steps to ensure open lines of communication between coaches and administrators.