Penn State rescinds ceremony invite to war veteran, cites 're-opened wounds'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- After complaints from alumni, Penn State has reversed course on its plan to honor a war veteran Saturday with past ties to the charity of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

University president Eric Barron announced Friday night that Penn State has rescinded Bruce Heim's invitation for Saturday's pregame ceremony. Penn State plays Army at noon on Military Appreciation Day.

"Unfortunately, his participation in Saturday's coin toss ceremony has re-opened deep wounds in our community that do not involve his service to country, but have distracted the public from the purpose of the day," Barron said. "We therefore regret that we must rescind the invitation to Mr. Heim to participate in the coin toss. We hope the sole focus of the day remains honoring all the dedicated men and women who serve our nation.

Heim served in Vietnam and received a Bronze Star, but the local businessman also served as a board member for The Second Mile.

Sandusky founded that organization, through which he met his victims. Heim has admitted to spotting Sandusky showering with children but didn't find it unusual. The charity has since folded.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which broke the initial story, the university received more than 100 complaints within 24 hours of the Wednesday announcement about honoring Heim.

Penn State did not return several messages from ESPN.com seeking comment.

Heim released his own statement on Friday, too, and expressed his disappointment. His statement was made available on StateCollege.com.

"As someone who has served the military and university with pride, I strongly disagree with Penn State's decision," Heim said. "I was proud to join others represented at the coin toss and to pay tribute to fellow West Point graduates and Vietnam veterans who have served their country. I am disappointed by this decision but more so by the process. However, the University and I agree on one important thing: tomorrow's activities are all about the men and women who honor our nation with their service."

Heim has never been accused of aiding Sandusky or convicted of wrongdoing. But he struck a nerve three years ago when he admitted that he advised the charity's chief executive not to report Sandusky's showering with children to the charity's board.

The executive, Jack Raykovitz, allegedly told Heim that former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley said nothing inappropriate had happened.

Heim also told the Harrisburg Patriot-News in 2012 that, at the time, he didn't see the harm in Sandusky showering with children. He also defended his advice to Raykovitz.

"For five years, I worked out at the football facility, several times a week, and saw Jerry showering with children," he told the newspaper. "I said I don't think it's relevant. It happens every day at the YMCA. I remember the conversation specifically because it seemed like a nonstarter because of what Penn State said went on."

Sandusky, Penn State's defensive coordinator from 1977 to 1999, was found guilty in 2012 on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse.

He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, essentially a life sentence for the 71-year-old.