In The

Lion's Den

The Penn State Scandal and a Rush to Judgment


Graham Spanier

Gryphon Eagle Press | AVAILABLE September 2022

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The Story

After sixteen years as president of Penn State, Graham Spanier found his life and career turned upside down almost overnight in November 2011 in a firestorm of breaking news concerning alleged child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach. Little did Spanier know that his life would unravel in a nightmare of false accusations and labyrinthine legal proceedings stemming from a scandal surrounding a man he barely knew and who hadn’t been in Penn State’s employ since 1998. In the Lions’ Den is a personal memoir, told by a central figure caught up in the crush of those events. It reveals how and why the university and many individuals, including Spanier himself and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, were unfairly targeted in a colossal miscarriage of justice.

In the Lions’ Den exposes those who made false accusations, either for political or financial gain, including the former Director of the FBI, whose investigation was widely condemned; the governor of Pennsylvania who was voted out of office because of his central role in the matter; the grandstanding NCAA president who imposed penalties that would ultimately be reversed; an attorney general elected on a promise to investigate the injustice who would soon be sent to prison for her crimes emanating from the calamity; the grand jury judge who would be accused of wrongdoing in the saga by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; the lead prosecutor whose law license to practice law would be suspended by the supreme court for his malpractice; and the university’s general counsel who would be censured by the supreme court for her malfeasance in representing Penn State officials.

The book also touches on the infamous Pennsylvania “Porngate” scandal that revealed a pornography ring operated out of the Office of Attorney General by many of the same prosecutors, investigators, judges, and state police commissioner who relentlessly pursued Spanier.

This book is for anyone interested in the real story of one of the biggest scandals in collegiate history.

Listen to the Prologue

About the Author

Graham Spanier

GRAHAM SPANIER served as president of The Pennsylvania State University from September 1995 to November 2011. His prior positions include chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oregon State University, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He previously served Penn State from 1973 to 1982 as a member of the faculty and in three administrative positions in the College of Health and Human Development.

A family sociologist, demographer, and marriage and family therapist, he earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University. He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates. Spanier is President Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus at Penn State. He held academic appointments as professor of human development and family studies, sociology, demography, and family and community medicine.

As president of Penn State, Dr. Spanier was often described as an unconventional university president. He is a magician who served as faculty advisor to the Penn State Performing Magicians, performed with Penn State’s Musical Theatre students, the marching band, the glee club, and the chamber orchestra. He has run with the bulls in Pamplona, has a commercial pilot’s license, and plays percussion with the Deacons of Dixieland. He and his racquetball partner were the eleven-time Penn State co-ed intramural racquetball champions.

He oversaw one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive universities, with nearly 100,000 students and 47,000 employees on 24 campuses and a physical plant of 1,700 buildings. During his tenure, applications soared to more than 120,000 per year and the academic standing of dozens of programs rose in national rankings.

As a national leader in higher education, Spanier chaired the Association of American Universities, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and led the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities. He was a founding member of the Internet2 board, U.S. Chair and international Vice Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network, and co-chair, with the President of the Recording Industry Association of America, of the Committee on Higher Education and the Entertainment Industry. Dr. Spanier was the first university president to receive the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence awarded by the American Council on Education. He was given the American Institute of Architects Award for Contribution to the Profession by a Non-Architect.

In the world of collegiate athletics, he chaired the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, was a member of the NCAA Executive Committee, was chair of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Presidential Oversight Board, oversaw the reorganization of the Fiesta Bowl, was chairman of the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents/Chancellors, and chaired commissions for the NCAA.

A distinguished researcher and scholar, he has more than 100 scholarly publications, including ten books, and was the founding editor of the Journal of Family Issues. Spanier served as President of the National Council of Family Relations, chairman of the Board of Directors of Child Fund International (formerly Christian Children’s Fund), a member of the Board of Governors of Junior Achievement Worldwide, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council.

Spanier served as chair of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a member of the National Counterintelligence Working Group, and as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval War College. He has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to national security, including being honored as one of the “Most Influential People in Security,” the “Wings of Law” Award from the Respect for Law Alliance, the Director’s Award for “Exceptional Public Service” presented by the FBI, and the Warren Medal for “Outstanding Contributions to the National Security of the United States of America.” He has been a frequent speaker at FBI and other governmental and educational conferences and seminars on topics related to national security.

Spanier spent decades working in television and radio, even while serving higher education. He hosted To the Best of My Knowledge, a live call-in program on public television and radio, and Expert Opinion, a sports topic program on the Big Ten Network.

Spanier currently serves as a consultant in national and international security, intelligence, and risk management.


Quotation mark

For the Truth, how long do we have to wait? Pursuing the Truth is a rough road with many challenges but it needs to be done. Thank you Graham Spanier for having the courage and staying the course. Our wait for the Truth is finally over.

Franco Harris NFL Hall of Fame
Quotation mark

A decade ago, allegations of child sexual abuse against a former Penn State football coach were stoked and sometimes distorted by scrambling reports and politically ambitious prosecutors. Their story swept across the nation like a hurricane, engulfing a university president and others who became collateral damage. Now that former president makes the case for a more careful consideration.

Jerry Kammer Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
Quotation mark

The relentless pursuit of Graham Spanier represents a sad chapter in the history of the American justice system that tainted the reputations of investigators, prosecutors, judges and politicians. This book meticulously unmasks a decade-long, overzealous, misguided effort to shift blame from an accused predator to a renowned university president—because of who he was, not what he did.

Honorable Timothy Lewis former Federal Appellate Court Judge
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With disturbing and explicit detail, Spanier, an innocent victim of a public hysteria, writes about justice denied from accusation to trial to incarceration, with all its humiliations and degradation—but also provides an uplifting account of the humanity that surrounded him. He has brilliantly taken a grotesque miscarriage of justice and enlightened us all.

Frank Phillips Boston Globe
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This accounting of justice run amok and political vindictiveness, exacerbated by the twisted influence of media narrative, makes for compelling reading.

Gay Talese Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Journalism
Quotation mark

Graham Spanier is a good and honorable man who was deeply wronged by the media and the legal system. If you are at all curious about what a miscarriage of justice looks like, read In the Lions’ Den.

Malcolm Gladwell ASA Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award
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It is undeniable that this book raises real questions about our justice system.

Edward Rendell former Governor of Pennsylvania
Quotation mark

Graham Spanier’s harrowing and compelling account of our deeply broken legal system illuminates too many sad truths; that justice is neither swift nor impartial. The obvious abuse of power for political gain described in In the Lions’ Den is Kafkaesque and sadly, all too common. Deliberately and soberly, Spanier leads us through one of the most explosive scandals in recent history with his integrity intact.

Valerie Plame former covert CIA operations officer
Quotation mark

Graham Spanier presided over one of the most exciting periods in Penn State history before facing by far its biggest challenges. His perspective from inside these events provides valuable and important insights that anyone interested in the full story should read and appreciate.

Sue Paterno Community Leader
Quotation mark

In the Lion’s Den provides a devastatingly detailed account of a system of justice determined to find blame even where none existed. The book, a must read for understanding the depth to which justice can fall, is a powerful account of how a major university and prosecutors rushed to judgment. Dr. Spanier is the heart and soul of this story, but the reader also learns of the unfair treatment of legendary coach Joe Paterno and other administrators.

John Kramer Former Director of the United States Sentencing Commission

Where to Buy

In The Lions’ Den is available in print, electronic and audiobook formats through these fine retailers:


Retailers and libraries may source through their preferred wholesaler or contact our distributor, Cardinal Publishers Group

Book Info

ISBN: 979-8-9856994-9-4

Format: Hardcover

Trim: 6 x 9

Pages: 512

Price: $24.95

In the News

June 20, 2022

Book Goodies Interview with Graham Spanier

Book Goodies sits down with former Penn State president Graham Spanier to talk about the release of his new book.

Read More

Author Appearances

September 15, 2022

Penn State University Retirees Association

For more information, please email

October 20, 2022

Penn State Great Valley Alumni Society

Join us at 6pm for a presentation and book signing.

Penn State Great Valley
30 East Swedesford Rd.
Malvern, PA 19355

For more information, please email

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