Joe Paterno never committed a single NCAA violation in 46 years as head football coach at Penn State University.
He donated millions of dollars to the school, and his name is on the campus library.
Even whether any of his despicable actions behind the scenes in the Jerry Sandusky affair -- revealed Thursday in a bombshell report after an independent investigation -- were technically criminal also is beside the point.
Bottom line: This iconic man, who in life was by far the most powerful figure on that school's campus, now has "pedophile protector" staining his once-sparkling legacy.
Shortly after the Sandusky scandal broke last November, the Penn State board of trustees fired Paterno. He had been viewed, not only in Central Pennsylvania but across America, as a saint-like figure, who was honesty personified.
Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
The hotly awaited Freeh Commission's report skewers Paterno, as well as three other key Penn State University administrators, for failing to protect children from the predatory monster Sandusky.
A trusted and admired assistant coach to Paterno at Penn State for 32 years until his retirement in 1999, Sandusky was found guilty last month on 45 of 48 counts of child sex-abuse with up to 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky's jail sentence, to be determined, could exceed 400 years.
The commission says "its most saddening finding" is "the total and consistent disregard" shown by "the most powerful men at Penn State, (who) failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
The university's org chart says Paterno answered to athletic director Tim Curley, who answered to president Graham Spanier and vice presidents that included Gary Schultz, whose responsibilities included the campus police.
In truth, even if the report doesn't say it, Spanier, Schultz and Curley and everybody else in State College, Pa., effectively answered to Paterno.
"JoePa," as he was so reverently known, had virtual free reign to do whatever he wanted on that campus, and was untouchable. His word was final.
Here's all you need to know about that. In late 2004, many PSU fans were screaming for Paterno's head, because his once-perennial national power Nittany Lions program had just concluded its fourth losing season in five years.
Spanier and other top administrators met Paterno at his house and asked him whether it was time to consider retiring. Paterno, then 77, effectively told them all to go stuff it -- he wasn't going anywhere. And didn't.
After Sandusky was arrested last November, the PSU board of trustees fired Spanier as well as Paterno, while athletic director Curley and former VP Schultz were arrested and charged with failure to report a crime and perjury, for the allegedly dishonest statements they gave earlier last year to a grand jury about their actions.
Curley's and Schultz's cases have yet to go before the courts. Spanier has not been charged with any crimes to date.
The investigation, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, was commissioned by the PSU board of trustees.
Among the report's bombshell findings is that Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno not only acted egregiously in 2001 after a Penn State graduate assistant coach discovered Sandusky sexually molesting a boy in the team's lockerroom showers, but all four of them had also known about a previous Sandusky child-molestation incident in 1998.
Yet they did nothing.
Indeed, after both incidents these four men "concealed Sandusky's activities from the board (of trustees), the university community and the police."
In his grand jury testimony last year, Paterno denied any knowledge of the 1998 incident.
The Freeh report disputes that claim:
"The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 (criminal) investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action...
"At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the (football team's building)." None of Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct.
"In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity," the report says.
Just as deplorably, Sandusky not only was allowed to retire with dignity a year later as "a valued member of the Penn State football legacy," but he would be granted "future 'visibility' at Penn State."
That decision, the report finds, essentially granted Sandusky the "licence to bring boys to the campus facilities for 'grooming' as targets for his assaults."
Sandusky retained "unlimited access to university facilities" right up to his arrest last November.
If Paterno had wanted any other course of events to have transpired since 1998, all he had to do was order it.
JoePa and his three underlings, instead, decided to do the "humane" thing, according to an email investigators found.
The "humane" thing was to protect Sandusky, and not those poor young boys.