BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Connections to Penn State weren't necessarily keeping prospective jurors from being chosen Tuesday to decide former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's fate on child sexual abuse charges.

After nine of the 12 main jurors were seated, their ranks included a longtime football season ticket holder, a rising senior in the university, a man with bachelor's and master's degrees from the university and a soil sciences professor who retired after 37 years there.

The first day of jury selection showed the strength of Sandusky's and Penn State's links to their rural central Pennsylvania community, and the presiding judge indicated that those connections wouldn't by themselves be enough to keep them from being selected.

The jurors and four alternates could be selected as early as Wednesday, with opening statements not scheduled to begin until Monday. Sandusky is fighting dozens of criminal charges that he abused 10 boys over a 15-year period.

In the first questioning of 40 prospective jurors, about half said they or immediate family members worked at Penn State or were university retirees. One woman rented apartments to college students. Four knew Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach. Two knew his wife.

Sandusky's lawyer won the right to have jurors chosen from the local community, and prosecutors had concerns that Centre County might prove to be nearly synonymous with Penn State. Sandusky had helped build the football team's reputation as a defensive powerhouse known as Linebacker U, his arrest toppled Joe Paterno from the head coaching position just months before his death from cancer and prosecutors say some of the attacks on children occurred inside university showers.

One of the first jurors to be seated wasn't just a season ticketholder since the 1970s: She said John McQueary – a possible trial witness and the father of a key witness – once worked with her husband.

When Sandusky's lawyer sought to have her removed for cause, Judge John Cleland signaled he would need more grounds.

"We're in Centre County. We're in rural Pennsylvania," the judge said, noting that such connections "can't be avoided."

Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola opted not to use one of his eight challenges, and she joined the panel. Amendola did strike parents with children of roughly junior high school age, similar to the ages for the boys prosecutors say Sandusky abused.

Other jurors selected included a 24-year-old man with plans to attend an auto technician school, a mother of two who works in retail, a retired school bus driver, an engineer with no Penn State ties and a property management firm employee.

All the jurors will have to say under oath they can be impartial.

Prospective jurors also learned that Paterno's wife and son were among the potential defense witnesses, about which a family spokesman declined to comment. Members of Sandusky's family also were on a list shown to the prospective jurors, along with assistant coach Mike McQueary and his father.

Mike McQueary, on leave from the team, has said he saw Sandusky naked in a team shower with a young boy more than a decade ago and reported it to Paterno.

Mike McQueary is also on the prosecution's list, along with young men who have accused Sandusky of abusing them.

Sandusky, 68, faces potential penalties that could result in an effective life prison sentence. He has maintained his innocence, acknowledging he showered with boys but saying he never molested them. His wife, Dottie Sandusky, has said he is innocent and his accusers are making up their stories.

Among those potential jurors who were struck from the pool were a nurse who said people make up stories all the time – prosecutors used a challenge for her – and a man who had volunteered for the charity Sandusky founded, The Second Mile. Also struck were a mother of 10 who said she has made up her mind, a Penn State fan and township manager who said news coverage of the case has been destructive to her community, a woman who taught Sandusky's son in third grade before the Sanduskys adopted him and a 1994 alumnus who knows the Sanduskys.

The judge told the more than 220 potential jurors he would not sequester them, meaning they can spend nights at home during the trial.

While about a dozen TV news trucks and more than 50 reporters waited outside the courthouse for updates, the judge urged members of the jury pool to avoid news accounts or social media postings.

"No one in the world will know as much about this trial as the people sitting in the jury box," he told them.

Sandusky attended jury selection and laughed at some of the judge's humorous remarks to potential jurors. But when the judge told the pool the nature of the charge, Sandusky put his head down.

More than 600 summonses were sent out to residents in Centre County, the home of Penn State University's main campus.

The judge addressed the prospective jurors in a somber, packed courtroom. The prospective panelists were to be taken in groups of 40 for more questions and, ultimately to face one-on-one questioning in a third phase, for those who were not dismissed beforehand. The jurors who were selected were allowed to leave for the day.

Early in the process, jurors were asked to indicate through a system in which they held up cards whether they had connections to Penn State.

About a dozen signaled that they worked or had retired from the university; another half-dozen said they had spouses who worked for the school.

Four indicated they knew Sandusky. Two said they knew his wife, who was not in court on Tuesday.

Two potential jurors indicated they had previously volunteered with The Second Mile.

Of the first group of 40 to be questioned Tuesday morning, the judge dismissed five for medical reasons or vacation plans.

Some of the accusers are expected to testify during the trial, which the judge said may last three weeks.

Prosecutors have claimed that Sandusky groomed boys he met through The Second Mile, which he founded for at-risk youths in 1977, then attacked them, in some cases in his own home or inside university athletic facilities.

Lawyers must pick three more main jurors and four alternates. The defense and the prosecution have used five of their allotted eight strikes.

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  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is escorted by police as he leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky Sentencing

    A crush of media and onlookers outside of Center County courthouse for Jerry Sandusky's sentencing.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is escorted by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau as he is taken into custody at the Centre County Courthouse after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years on Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, rear, leaves the Centre County Courthouse with a Centre County Sheriff's deputy after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Outside Courthouse

    The scene outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced.

  • Jerry Sandusky, Dottie Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, rear, and his wife Dottie leave the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012.

  • Dorothy Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's wife Dorothy Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Thursday, June 21, 2012.

  • Gary Schultz

    Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, right, arrives for a hearing at Dauphin County Court, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in Harrisburg, Pa.

  • Jerry Sandusky, Karl Rominger

    In this courtroom sketch, Karl Rominger, left, attorney for Jerry Sandusky, right, listen as the testimony of Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary is reenacted at the request of the jury during the second day of jury deliberations in Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012.

  • FILE - This Dec. 7, 2011 file booking photo released by the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Penn. shows former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky.

  • Dottie Sandusky

    In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, Dottie Sandusky, wife of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

  • The Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., is shown Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.

  • Mike McQueary

    In this file photo from Jan. 25, 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary arrives to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus for the funeral service of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in State College, Pa.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing, in Bellefonte, Pa. Former FBI chief Louis Freeh and his investigators have conducted 200 interviews in their expansive probe into the child sex scandal at Penn State.

  • This March 26, 2012 file photo shows the sign outside the State College, Pa. office of The Second Mile. The charity for troubled youths started by Jerry Sandusky more than three decades ago -- and through which the retired Penn State assistant football coach met the boys he was sexually abusing.

  • Gary Schultz, Tim Curley

    FILE - In these Nov. 7, 2011 file photos, former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, left, and former athletic director Tim Curley, right, enter a district judge's office for an arraignment in Harrisburg, Pa., for their actions related to the sex abuse scandal surrounding former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Despite Sandusky

  • Karl Rominger

    FILE - In this file photo from Dec. 13, 2011, Karl Rominger, an attorney for former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period, stands outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Rominger entered his formal appearance on Sandusky's behalf in April 2012, but had previously been assisting with the defense. Despite Sandusky

  • Sue Paterno

    FILE - In this file photo from Jan. 26, 2012, Sue Paterno, wife of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, enters a memorial service at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. A capacity crowd of more than 12,000 packed the arena for one more tribute to Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach who died from lung cancer.

  • Jerry Sandusky

    FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing in Bellefonte, Pa. Alleged victims of Sandusky will not be allowed to avoid disclosure of their names by testifying under pseudonyms, and tweets or other electronic communications by reporters will not be permitted during the trial, the judge ruled Monday, June 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

  • Television satellite trucks set up outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 4, 2012, in preparation for the start of the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Joe Paterno

    FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2006 file photo, then Penn State coach Joe Paterno watches the college football game against Youngstown State in State College, Pa. Paterno, the Penn State football coach since 1966, was told by an assistant coach that he saw former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a shower on the Penn State campus and Paterno in turn, told Penn State officials. The Penn State Board of Trustees ousted him on Nov. 6, 201 for what was called his

  • Tom Corbett

    FILE - In this March 8, 2011 file photo, Gov. Tom Corbett addresses a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa. Corbett was the attorney general when the investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was launched by state prosecutors. Sandusky is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period. Corbett also serves as a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged in December. Despite Sandusky

  • Joe Amendola

    FILE - In this file photo from Dec. 13, 2011, Joe Amendola, attorney for former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who is accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period, talks with media outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Amendola has been second-guessed for allowing Sandusky to go on network television and speak at length with a reporter for The New York Times after his arrest. Despite Sandusky

  • Mike McQueary

    File-This Sept. 12, 2009 file photo shows Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary walking the sideline during the second half of their college football game against Syracuse in State College, Pa. McQueary, whose report of Jerry Sandusky allegedly attacking a child in the showers led to Joe Paterno's firing said in a court filing Tuesday May 8, 2012 that he is suing the school. The "writ of summons" filed by McQueary's lawyer described it as a whistle-blower case, but the brief document was not accompanied by a full complaint that would lay out the allegations. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)

  • Jerry Sandusky, Joe Amendola

    FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center left, walks with his attorney Joe Amendola, center right, as he leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Of all the boys Sandusky is accused of molesting, none has been the focus of more outrage than the one known as Victim 2 _ the boy allegedly abused in a locker room shower, the case that ended Joe Paterno's career and the issue that spawned criminal charges against two school officials. Prosecutors say they don't know one important fact about him: his identity. The prospect that a victim in a sex abuse case is unknown presents a challenge for prosecutors; another potential complication is that Sandusky believes he knows the alleged victim _ and says he could help exonerate him. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

  • People display shirts asking the board to resign before a meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Friday, March 16, 2012 in Hershey, Pa. The trustees are meeting in Hershey to discuss potential changes to the board amid criticism over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Joe Paterno

    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno arrives home, in State College, Pa. Penn State's trustees say late coach Joe Paterno's failure to follow up on a sexual abuse allegation against former assistant Jerry Sandusky "constituted a failure of leadership" that ultimately led to his firing in November. A report issued Monday, March 12, 2012, by the trustees says the board ultimately decided to fire Paterno after learning the details of his testimony before a grand jury when charges were filed against Sandusky. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

  • Mike McQueary

    Former Penn State assistant football caoch Mike McQueary, left, arrives to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus for the funeral service of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in State College, Pa., Wednesday Jan. 25, 2012. As a graduate assistant to Paterno in 2002, McQueary went to the coach saying he had witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky assaulting a boy in the shower at the Penn State football building. Paterno died Sunday at the age of 85. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

  • Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky

    <em>CORRECTION: Jerry Sandusky's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this slideshow. </em>

  • Jerry Sandusky, Dottie Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, right center, arrives with his wife Dottie, left center, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Jerry Sandusky

    Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse Friday, June 22, 2012, after being found guilty in his sexual abuse trial, in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)