Paterno says he took part in traffic incident

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's continuing pattern of off-the-field incidents took an unusual turn yesterday, reaching to the top of the program.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno confirmed for the first time that he had a verbal run-in with a female driver Friday after a near accident on campus.

Message boards have been full of rumored accounts of the incident, but Paterno made no secret of it.

He told more than 300 people at the Penn State Quarterback Club luncheon about his near miss. Information exchanged at the weekly luncheon is normally treated as off the record and not open to the media. But multiple sources who attended told the Post-Gazette about Paterno's exchange with the audience.

According to the sources, Paterno said after his close call he pulled his car over to the curb and got out.

He then approached the other vehicle and shook his finger at the driver. He warned her to, "Watch it."

"Be careful," Paterno said. "I have your license number, and I will call the police on you."

According to the sources, Paterno said a male passenger then walked up and chastised him, saying, "That's my wife you're talking to."

Paterno said, "That's your problem."

The woman then snapped back at Paterno, telling him, "I'm going to call the police on you."

Paterno reportedly told the woman to go ahead.

She did just that.

According to a university police report, the unidentified woman filed her claim the same day as the incident. She stated that a male driver committed a traffic violation and acted in a disorderly manner at 12:09 p.m., along Bigler Road, near the Food Science Building.

Numerous calls to the university police department for an update on the woman's complaint were not returned.

At this stage, the incident is just a disagreement, and no charges have been filed.

Paterno's off-the-field incident is just the latest in a long line of distractions for his football program.

University police are investigating an on-campus fight this past weekend that may have involved some of Paterno's players and resulted in at least one injury.

Tailback Austin Scott, according to Paterno, broke a team rule and did not dress for Saturday's game against Iowa. But sources say Scott is being investigated for an off-the-field incident. The investigation continues, but no charges have been filed.

Also this past weekend, two freshmen -- tailback Joe Suhey and backup punter Ryan Breen -- were cited for underage drinking.

In August, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive back Willie Harriott were both cited for underage drinking, and Paterno benched them as punishment.

Six months ago, six players initially were charged for their roles in an April 1 brawl at an off-campus apartment in State College.

Charges against four players were dropped, but safety Anthony Scirrotto and defensive tackle Chris Baker are facing possible trials in December.

Scirrotto is charged with a felony count of criminal trespass and a summary offense of harassment. Baker is facing felony charges of burglary and criminal trespass, misdemeanor assault and summary harassment.

Penn State's players continue to clean up Beaver Stadium after each home game as part of Paterno's season-long team punishment as a result of that fight.


Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@post-gazette.com .


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