The president of Penn State said on Sunday he was appalled by the media coverage surrounding allegations the university's late head football coach Joe Paterno knew about child sex abuse by his assistant coach as far back as the mid-1970s.
New allegations about Paterno, a legendary figure at Penn State and still revered by many supporters, surfaced last week in court documents in a civil case over settlements with victims of his assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno, who died in January 2012, was fired in 2011 after disclosures that he knew Sandusky sexually abused a young boy in the school's football showers in 2002 and that, while he told university officials, he failed to notify police.
The new allegations involve alleged incidents that are years older.
"I am appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment that have accompanied the media stories surrounding these allegations," Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University, said in an open letter on the school's website.
None of the fresh allegations, which threaten to reopen a scandal that rocked the school's vaunted football program and college sports in general, have been substantiated in a court of law and they are unsupported by any evidence, Barron said.
The Associated Press reported that university spokesman Lawrence Lokman confirmed on Sunday that the earliest year of alleged abuse covered in Penn State's legal settlements with Sandusky's accusers was 1971.
PHOTOS OF JERRY SANDUSKY:
Penn State president 'appalled' by media reports on Paterno
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, left, along with Special Deputy Attorney Genera H. Geoffery Moulton Jr., talks about a report into the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation, during a news conference Monday, June 23, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathlen Kane, left and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan conduct a news conference at the Capitol announcing charges against a former state Senate leader and seven others in what they called a "pay to play" case involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike Thursday, March 13, 2013 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky faces more than 350 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - JUNE 22: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after a jury found him guilty in his sex abuse trial on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts in the sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
This video framegrab provided by the courthouse pool via Commonwealth Media Services shows Jerry Sandusky describing his career and retirement from Penn State by video link from Greene State Prison in southwestern Pennsylvania, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, as testimony began in a hearing into whether he can get back the retirement benefits he lost after being convicted of child molestation. (AP Photo/Commonwealth Media Services)
Jerry Sandusky arrives for his hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Michael Kubel/Allentown Morning Call/MCT via Getty Images)
Dottie Sandusky, the wife of Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, for a hearing for her husband on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary exits the Dauphin County Courthouse, Monday, July 29, 2013, in Harrisburg, Pa. McQueary testified Monday as a star witness in a hearing for three former Penn State officials accused in a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1999, file photo, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, right, poses with his defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky during Penn State Media Day at State College, Pa. An amended complaint by the family and estate of Joe Paterno and others was filed Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in county court near State College that added Penn State as a "nominal defendant" in a lawsuit against the NCAA over the university's penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)
FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, former FBI director Louis Freeh speaks about the Freeh Report during a news conference, in Philadelphia. Penn State has released a document detailing its agreement with former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, a review that cost the school about $8.1 million. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Penn State University Office of the Physical Plant workers remove the concrete landing area that held the Joe Paterno statue, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in State College, Pennsylvania. The statue was removed on Sunday in the wake of the Louis Freeh report and Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Hells Angels from Connecticut visit the site where the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno once stood outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, The statue was removed by workers after Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday in the wake of the child sex scandal of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. According to an FBI report, it is believed that Paterno had detailed knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children before and after Sandusky retired from coaching at Penn State. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett speaks during a gubernatorial debate with Democrat Tom Wolf on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in Hershey, Pa. The debate is hosted by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett speaks at a news conference following a night of rioting in response to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Corbett is the former state attorney general who launched the investigation in 2009 that eventually brought criminal charges against three former Penn State officials this week. As governor, Corbett is an ex-oficio member of Penn Stateâs board of trustees. Paterno was fired amid allegations that former former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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The fresh allegations came in a court opinion by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer, who wrote that witnesses testified in depositions that Paterno was told in 1976, 1987 and 1988 about sex abuse by Sandusky.
Glazer's opinion was filed in a lawsuit involving the school's former insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.
Since Paterno did not report the three incidents to top university officials or police, Glazer said, the university can legally claim it was unaware of them and thus remains insured for any settlements with victims prior to 1992, when the liability policy was changed to exclude sexual abuse.
The civil case aims to determine whether the school or its insurer should pay millions of dollars in damages to Sandusky's victims.
Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, dismissed as "bunk" the allegations that his father was told about abuse decades ago.
Sandusky, 72, is serving 30 years to 60 years in prison after a jury convicted him of molesting 10 boys in incidents dating back to the 1990s.
PHOTOS OF JOE PATERNO:
Joe Paterno and wife Sue Paterno
Penn State president 'appalled' by media reports on Paterno
FILE - In this Jan. 1, 1972 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is embraced by his wife, Sue, following Penn State's 30-6 victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Paterno, the longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone else in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity, died Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. He was 85. (AP Photo/File)
Sue Paterno looks to her husband, Joe Paterno, after he won his 400th game during NCAA football action over Northwestern on Saturday, November 6, 2010, in State College, Pennsylvania. Penn State won, 35-21. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue, react after he arrived at his home in State College, Pa. Former Penn State coach Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer, according to his son. Scott Paterno says in a statement provided to The Associated Press by a family representative that the 84-year-old Joe Paterno is undergoing treatment and that "his doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery." (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue Paterno, stand on their porch to thank supporters gathered outside their home in State College, Pa. Sue Paterno says the familyâs detailed response to a critical report on the handling of child abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is being released to the public. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Sue Paterno, center, wife of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, consoles her grandson as they leave a memorial service for Joe at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., Thursday Jan. 26, 2012. A capacity crowd of more than 12,000 packed the Bryce Jordan Center for one more tribute to Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach who died Sunday from lung cancer. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2011, file photo, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno leaves the Louis and Mildred Lasch Football Building on campus in State College, Pa. Two years after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges, the scandal continues to play out. Paterno's family and others have sued the NCAA over the Penn State sanctions and on other grounds, and in Oct., the presiding judge heard oral argument regarding the NCAAâs bid to have the case dismissed. The judge did not indicate when he will rule. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
KATIE - 2/11/13 - In an exclusive interview, Sue Paterno - widow of legendary football coach Joe Paterno - sits down with Katie Couric for the first time since the Pennsylvania State University scandal, on KATIE, airing MONDAY, FEB. 11, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lou Rocco/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KATIE COURIC, SUE PATERNO