Protests Erupt as University of Tennessee Eyed Coach Connected to Sandusky Abuse Case

The University of Tennessee is in hot water after reports alleged that the school may hire a coach accused of witnessing former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse.

The Tennessee Volunteers were in talks to bring on Greg Schiano as the team’s head football coach, ESPN reported Sunday, after the university fired Butch Jones, citing poor performance.

Schiano was connected to the high-profile Penn State scandal as an assistant under Joe Paterno during Sandusky’s tenure. His peers accused him of witnessing Sandusky’s molestation of a minor, alleging that he saw him acting inappropriately with a boy in the shower.

Former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary testified in a 2015 deposition that Schiano knew of Sandusky’s abuse, according to court documents published by the Washington Post. He claimed Schiano told fellow assistant coach Tom Bradley that he witnessed an inappropriate act by the coach.

“I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning — but that Greg had come into [Bradley’s] office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower,” McQueary testified.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys over the course of 15 years, but Schiano has denied allegations that he knew of any crimes by the former coach.

When news broke that the Vols were close to making a deal with Schiano, fans expressed their outrage at the decision, slamming the university on social media and planning more concrete displays of protest.

ESPN reports that about 100 people gathered at Tennessee’s campus to protest the potential hire, carrying signs with messages like “Schia-NO,” citing his disturbing past.

Several Tennessee politicians also expressed their disapproval of Schiano as the Volunteers head coach.

State Rep. Eddie Smith wrote that “a Greg Schiano hire would be the anathema to all that our University and our community stand for.”

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Schiano has spent the past two seasons at The Ohio State University as defensive coordinator. After leaving Penn State, he also worked as coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and as Rutgers University’s head coach.

Schiano and the University of Tennessee had signed a memorandum of understanding on Sunday, and the school planned to announce him as coach on Sunday night. But after intense backlash by supporters, Tennessee backed out of the deal.