29th January 2005
Dismissals came in the middle of a child molestation abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach. The University has been dealing with the backlash from implications that Paterno may have not done 'enough' on following up with the charges after passing on the claims to a higher up when the allegations first came out a while ago. Paterno originally indicated he would step down at the end of the season, but the university's board of trustees chose to cut him loose earlier.
Paterno Is Finished at Penn State, and President Is Out By MARK VIERA STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno, who has the most victories of any coach in major college football history, was fired by Penn State on Wednesday night in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal involving a prominent former assistant coach and the university’s failure to act to halt further harm.
Graham B. Spanier, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the nation, who has helped raise the academic profile of Penn State during his tenure, was also removed by the Board of Trustees. When the announcement was made at a news conference that the 84-year-old Mr. Paterno would not coach another game, a gasp went up from the crowd of several hundred reporters, students and camera people who were present.
“We thought that because of the difficulties that engulfed our university, and they are grave, that it is necessary to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction,” said John Surma Jr., the vice chairman of the board.
The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.
Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.
Mr. Paterno had announced earlier Wednesday that he planned to retire at the end of the football season, but the statement was apparently released without the approval of the board.
“At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status,” Mr. Paterno said in his statement. “They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Yet the board unanimously declined to let him finish out the season, his 46th as the head football coach and his 62nd over all at the college. The defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will take over as interim head coach. Mr. Paterno was told of his firing by telephone, according to Mr. Surma, who is the chief executive of U.S. Steel.
Late Wednesday night, Mr. Paterno issued another statement.
“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it.
“A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value,” he said in the statement.
“This university is a large and complex institution, and although I have always acted honorably and in the best interest of the university, the buck stops here,” Mr. Spanier said in a statement. “In this situation, I believe it is in the best interest of the university to give my successor a clear path to resolve the issues before us.”
Rodney A. Erickson, the executive vice president and provost, will serve as acting president.
After the announcements about Mr. Spanier and Mr. Paterno, the news conference immediately took on a frenzied and somewhat vitriolic tenor. Angry questions were shouted at Mr. Surma, who responded to them while the other board members sat behind him and to his sides. One cameraman repeatedly said, “Your campus is going to burn tonight.”
The scandal, and the fallout from it, has left Penn State’s normally placid campus in a state of shock. Scores of students poured into the streets downtown in the immediate aftermath of the news conference. Many held up cellphones to take pictures and others blew vuvuzelas and air horns. A few climbed lampposts, tried to topple street signs and knocked over trash cans. Others set off firecrackers from the roofs of buildings, and a television news truck was flipped on its side. A lamppost was torn down and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowd.
“I just don’t think it’s right that JoePa’s losing his job,” Corey Davis, a 23-year-old senior studying international politics, said. “All the facts aren’t out, we don’t even know he’s done anything wrong. Joe’s the fall guy.”
Kathryn Simpson, 20, a junior studying graphic design, was weeping as she walked away from the university’s administration building, Old Main, with a friend.
“This is devastating for us,” she said. “I never in a million years thought I’d see this.”
A number of students went to the coach’s house, where Mr. Paterno and his wife, Sue, spoke with them.
Dressed in a baggy gray pullover sweater, Mr. Paterno waved his hand and started to walk back inside. A student yelled, “We are Penn State,” the frequent rallying cry. Mr. Paterno stopped and turned around to say: “That’s right. We are Penn State, don’t ever forget it.”
Many students have shown their support for Mr. Paterno with large rallies outside his home and at Old Main. After he was fired, thousands of people gathered in front of the administration building, throwing objects and chanting “We want Joe!”
A grand jury said that Mr. Spanier, the university’s president since 1995, was made aware of a report of an incident involving Mr. Sandusky. Upon learning about a suspected 2002 assault by Mr. Sandusky on a young boy in the football building’s showers, Mr. Paterno redirected the graduate assistant who witnessed the incident to the athletic director, rather than notifying the police. Mr. Paterno said the graduate assistant who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature. Mr. McQueary testified that he saw Mr. Sandusky having anal sex with the boy.
The Department of Education announced Wednesday that it would investigate the university’s handling of the abuse allegations.
Mr. Paterno has had a contentious relationship with some members of the Board of Trustees. In 2004, Mr. Spanier, Mr. Curley and select board members twice went to his house in efforts to get him to retire. Mr. Paterno declined, and the moment was looked at in the narrative of Paterno’s career as an instance of his overcoming adversity. He revived the program, including victories in the Orange Bowl over Florida State in the 2005 season and the Outback Bowl over Tennessee in the 2006 season.
Mr. Spanier, 63, has helped to raise the academic prestige of Penn State during his tenure. A trained therapist with a Ph.D. in sociology, he was known among the students for playing the washboard with local bands and performing magic tricks at certain functions.
Yet it was Mr. Paterno who remained the public face of the university. He met with his team Wednesday in a gathering that players described as emotional. Stephon Morris, a junior cornerback, said Paterno was near tears when he told the team he was leaving. “I’ve never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life,” Mr. Morris said. Still, Mr. Paterno’s talk was not all about the turmoil. Mr. Morris said Mr. Paterno’s main message was “Beat Nebraska,” referring to Penn State’s next opponent. When he left, his players gave him a standing ovation.
Bill Pennington and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.
Paterno himself released a statement:
“I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it.
A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.
I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.”
Earlier Wednesday, Paterno released a statement saying he planned to retire at the end of the season:
“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.
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.
That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.
This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”
News of Paterno's dismissal led to some students rioting on campus, overturning a news van in the process. There has been some anger from some within the student body who felt that Paterno was unfairly being singled out in media coverage of the event, when it was Sandusky who did the deed.
7th January 2011
"Some" students rioting is an understatement.
Cuba shall triumph
15th May 2004
all paterno had was heresay, he couldn't do anything other than report it up. hes a football coach not a crusader. mqueary is the one who should have gone to the police.
15th September 2004
I already have a thread about this in General Discussion.
5th August 2003
TIKI;5584095all paterno had was heresay, he couldn't do anything other than report it up. hes a football coach not a crusader. mqueary is the one who should have gone to the police.
I just don't understand why someone who witnesses these abuses just doesn't go to the police in the very first place? Why did they simply try to pass the responsibility on to the next person at the school and let it be? What happened to these kids is horrible, so why didn't anyone go to the police?
29th January 2005
Killer Kyle;5584101I already have a thread about this in General Discussion.
Ok then, sorry about that, why don't you merge the threads then? I don't think I have that power.