Nike co-founder Phil Knight reversed himself regarding former Penn State gridiron coach Joe Paterno after a new report that criticized the original pedophilia investigation commissioned by the school.
Last July's findings by former FBI director Louis Freeh found Paterno should have done more to stop Jerry Sandusky, his assistant coach who was convicted last year on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Knight had been one of Paterno's most ardent supporters but said after the Freeh report that "it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences."
The most infamous tale was one in which another assistant came to Paterno after having found Sandusky in the team's locker room shower with a young boy but Paterno did only the minimum of reporting the incident to superiors.
But on Sunday, a Paterno family-commissioned report was released saying the original report was filled with unsubstantiated theories, allegations and bias.
Freeh defended his findings, saying, "I stand by our report that four of the most powerful men at Penn State agreed not to report Sandusky's activity to public officials" and called the family's report "self-serving".
But Knight, who released a statement Monday via ESPN, said that after the Paterno family's rebuttal report, "it is clear that the findings of the Freeh Report were unjustified and unsubstantiated."
Knight said his rebuke of Paterno was made without having read Freeh's repot in full and that when he later examined it, "I was surprised to learn that the alarming allegations, which so disturbed the nation, were essentially theories and assertions rather than solid charges backed by solid evidence.
"On reflection I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment.
"When this tragic story first unfolded Joe cautioned all of us to slow down and carefully gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. We owed it to the victims, he said, to get to the truth. It was counsel we all should have followed."
Knight also blasted the National Collegiate Athletic Assiociation (NCAA), which has member schools that have multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals with Nike. The NCAA hit Penn State with a four-year ban from lucrative bowl games, a $60 million fine and the wiping out of 112 Paterno victories from 1998-2011.
"The NCAA's actions are exposed as totally unwarranted," Knight said. The NCAA acted outside its charter and rendered judgment absent any kind of investigation or judicial hearing. It was simply grandstanding."