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Penn State fires Paterno in wake of child sex abuse scandal

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:17 p.m. HST, Nov 09, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. >> Penn State trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid the growing furor over how the school handled sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.
The massive shakeup Wednesday night came hours after Paterno announced that he planned to retire at the end of his 46th season.
But the outcry following the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges proved too much for the board to ignore.
Speaking at his house to a couple of dozen students, Paterno said, "Right now, I'm not the football coach. And I've got to get used to that. After 61 years, I've got to get used to it. I appreciate it. Let me think it through."
He shook hands with many of the students, some of whom were crying.
Other students were upset. A large crowd descended on the administration building, shouting "We want Joe back!" then headed to Beaver Stadium.
One key question has been why Paterno and other top school officials didn't go to police in 2002 after being told a graduate assistant saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a school shower.
Paterno says he should have done more. Spanier has said he was not told the details of the attack.
Sandusky has denied the charges.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim coach while Rodney Erickson will be the interim school president.
Earlier in the day, Paterno said in a statement he was "absolutely devastated" by the case, in which Sandusky, his onetime heir apparent was charged with molesting eight boys in 15 years, with some of the alleged abuse taking place at the Penn State football complex.
"This is a tragedy," Paterno said. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
John Surma, the vice chair of the board of trustees said, "these decisions were made after careful deliberations and in the best interests of the university as a whole."
He said Paterno was told by telephone that he was out after spending most of his life at Penn State and guiding its football teams to two national championships in the 1980s.
"The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community. But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place," Surma said.
The firings came three days before Penn State hosts Nebraska in its final home game of the season, a day usually set aside to honor seniors on the team.
The ouster of the man affectionately known as "JoePa" brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers — not just in college football but in all of sports. Paterno has 409 victories — a record for major college football — won two national titles and guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons. He reached 300 wins faster than any other coach.
Penn State is 8-1 this year, with its only loss to powerhouse Alabama. The Nittany Lions are No. 12 in The Associated Press poll.
After 19th-ranked Nebraska, Penn State plays at Ohio State and at No. 16 Wisconsin, both Big Ten rivals. It has a chance to play in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis, with a Rose Bowl bid on the line.
After meeting Tuesday, Penn State's board of trustees said it would appoint a committee to investigate the "circumstances" that resulted in the indictment of Sandusky, and of athletic director Tim Curley and a vice president Gary Schultz, who are accused in an alleged cover-up.
Paterno notified Curley and Schultz about the 2002 abuse charge and is not a target of the criminal investigation. Curley and Schultz have been charged with failing to report the incident to the authorities.
Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in June 1999, maintained his innocence through his lawyer. Curley has taken a leave of absence and Schultz has decided to step down. They also say they are innocent.
The committee will be appointed Friday at the board's regular meeting, which Gov. Tom Corbett said he plans to attend, and will examine "what failures occurred and who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure" similar mistakes aren't made in the future.
Sandusky founded The Second Mile charity in 1977, working with at-risk youths. It now raises and spends several million dollars each year for its programs. Paterno is listed on The Second Mile's website as a member of its honorary board of directors, a group that includes business executives, golfing great Arnold Palmer and several NFL Hall of Famers and coaches, including retired Pittsburgh Steelers stars Jack Ham and Franco Harris.
On Wednesday morning, Paterno said he planned to retire at the end of the season, but the board had other ideas.
In a statement, Paterno said: "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."
He went on: "I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today."

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aiea7 wrote:
Yes, I agree that Paterno should be fired, but what about the victims - believe there were several over the years, did their parents ever know about the encounters? If not, why not? If they were are of them, why did they not report it. I know that the ex-coach was wrong to do what he did, but sometimes, even though these boys were under age, and did not like it, some of them would or should have reported it. It really baffles me, that not one boy reported these incidents. However, it was still wrong even if the incidents were consensual because they were minor. But, this part is really perplexing.
on November 9,2011 | 05:46PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
SET FIRE TO THE VICTIMS, NOT JOEPA. Wait a minute, who was IN CHARGE? JOEPA. So who do we set fire to, the victims or JoePa. I think u now have your answer. JoePa did not want to go quietly into the sunset, which would have been much wiser for him and for history, however the University needed to go to the drastic action of removing him from their system, or FIRING HIM, which leaves a bad taste in any person's career. However what is JoePa going to do at 84 years old? You watch he is going to coach at THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME, if Brian Kelly does not shape up and Brians is given the BYE BYE, because JoePa has the good GENES, that he may coach until he reaches 97 years young. LET'S GO JOE, LET'S GO JOE, LET'S GO JOE, obviously marching to the same beat as LET'S GO BOWS, LET'S GO BOWS, LET'S GO BOWS. Of course we in Hawaii can feel the Penn State aura here because of the Lady Lion's FOUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS in a row prior to this season. Maybe it was fitting that KANANI DANIELSON will go out at CHAMPIONS AGAIN, the long wait since 1987 FINALLY OVER ! ! ! ! !
on November 10,2011 | 12:27AM
Anonymous wrote:
Most of these kids came from Sandusky's foundation that suppose to help broken families. I guess he knew that the kids would not report the incident, so he got his victims from his own foundation. Pretty sick. Don't worry about Paterno, he was well paid and at 84 he has more than enough money to retire. I find it hard to believe that he learned of a kid getting raped by his good friend and he still allowed him to be on campus? I find it hard to swallow that he thought it was a minor incident and did not follow up with the admin to find out if his friend was guilty. You got friends like this?
on November 9,2011 | 06:56PM
Manapua_Man wrote:
Deep down... I think there was a feeling that the football program needed new blood. Penn State today looks and plays exactly the same way since 1966. Same old uniforms... same old "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense.
on November 9,2011 | 07:13PM
HiHawaii808 wrote:
Joe Paterno was blinded by Penn State football. Blinded through the horrific incidents and blinded through this morning when he announced that he would retire at the end of this season. Even up to being notified of his firing, he still does not realize the magnitude of what happened because the only thing he cares about is Penn State football. He was totally a distraction since the report cam to light. Everyone focuses on him and not the criminal or victims. It is better that he is out of the way now. Swift action action was needed and it is the right thing to do.
on November 9,2011 | 08:18PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
What I don't understand is why Joe Paterno did not follow-up on the incident. He knew that something happened and he just went by his own way even after two years. He should have wondered what ever happened as a result of his report. But obviously he know that nothing was done because Sandusky was not taken to court for his actions. There was not effort to find out what actually happened that night. Most of all, there was not effort to find the victim.
on November 9,2011 | 08:59PM
localguy wrote:
Don't stop with Paterno. Board of trustees should resign. Also anyone of any position should also go. Then start firing the teachers and professors. Shut down Penn State. Make it a witch hunt. What a fiasco. Similar to the McMartin Nightmare and the hysteria puppeteers. Way to much political correctness going on here. Will be in the courts for years. At least give Joe credit for reporting it. People fail to realize he was following Penn State procedure as required to do. He had no idea if it was being investigated or not. People fail to realize this was how it was done at that time. To much armchair quarterbacking going on. Give me a break.
on November 9,2011 | 10:24PM
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