Posted by Adam Jacobi
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Penn State interim president Rodney Erickson announced that embattled assistant coach Mike McQueary -- a grand jury witness in the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault investigation -- had been placed on indefinite paid administrative leave, and that he would not attend the Penn State-Nebraska game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
McQueary's disassociation from the Penn State program may have already gone farther than what was announced by the university, however.
Later Friday afternoon, PennLive.com reported that McQueary spoke to his wide receivers via a speakerphone, and told them that he was not only on leave, he was out as a coach -- and under protective custody:
During a brief and emotional conversation, McQueary told them, “I wanted to let you guys know I'm not your coach anymore. I'm done.”
When players asked, "Coach, where are you? Can we see you?" McQueary responded, “No, I'm actually in protective custody. I'm not in State College.”
McQueary added that he was, "Double-fisting it," meaning he was having two drinks at once.
While Erickson's press conference mentioned nothing about protective custody, he did mention that the current environment surrounding McQueary and the team made going on leave a necessity.
"It became clear Coach McQueary could not function in this role under these circumstances," said Erickson. McQueary had come under fire for not intervening in an alleged sexual assault by Sandusky in 2002 after witnessing it, then reporting the assault to since-fired Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, but not directly to police.
A day earlier, Penn State had already announced that McQueary would not be coaching in this weekend's game, but the school merely said that that decision had been made because of threats against McQueary received by the school. Presumably, those threats are what have led to the reported protective custody. There was no mention of McQueary's job status in the Thursday announcement, and Erickson's press conference only revealed that McQueary's administrative leave was indefinite and paid.
When one reporter asked him whether McQueary was covered under whistleblower laws, since he reported the incident to a superior, Erickson simply acknowledged that "there are complexities" to the issue. Erickson also declined to go into whether McQueary was on leave because of the threats Penn State reported receiving, or because of his role in reporting the alleged assault in 2002.
Sandusky faces 40 various counts of sexual misbehavior with minors, and the state of Pennsylvania has announced that the investigation is still ongoing.