Spanier's lawyer, Peter Vaira, tells The Associated Press that Spanier received regular "disciplinary beatings" by his father, and had to have his nose straightened several times. Vaira says the abuse was never sexual.
Spanier sent a letter to Penn State University's board of trustees saying he would not have turned a blind eye to the victims of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach, because of his own abuse history.
The letter was first reported Monday by The Patriot-News.
A recent internal report on the Sandusky scandal blasted Spanier, former coach Joe Paterno and others for failing to report the abuse complaints to authorities.