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Joe Paterno fired by Penn State board of trustees

Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 5:45 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

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On Wednesday morning, Joe Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of Penn State's football season. On Wednesday evening, the Penn State board of trustees decided that wasn't enough.

The trustees cleaned house at a Wednesday night meeting, announcing that both Paterno and PSU president Graham Spanier were done with the school effective immediately. That means Joe Paterno's legendary, 46-year career as head coach of Penn State is, as of today, officially over. Tom Bradley, who has spent the last 33 years coaching alongside Paterno as a defensive assistant, has been named the interim head coach for the rest of the 2011 season.

John P. Surma, the vice chairman of the board of trustees, announced at the ensuing press conference that the decision to remove Paterno was unanimous. "The university is much larger than its athletic teams," said Surma. The press conference was marked by numerous angry and accusatory questions, many of which Surma chose to ignore.

Paterno, 84, leaves Penn State as the winningest coach in major college football history, having just passed Grambling legend Eddie Robinson in his last game. He was notified of the board's decision by phone call, according to Surma, and after the press conference, he greeted a small group of students who had come to his house by telling them, "Right now I'm not the football coach."

Later, Paterno issued a longer statement from his home, saying the following:

"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, it's 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." 

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Paterno's firing comes as his Nittany Lions are ranked 12th in the nation and leading the Big Ten Leaders Division with an 8-1 (5-0) record. It was the 19th time in his career that a Paterno-led Penn State team had started the season with at least eight wins in its first nine games.

The status of Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and of vice president/treasurer Gary Schultz is still to be determined. Both men face charges for perjury and failure to report child abuse in their roles in the Sandusky scandal. Surma would not say at the conference whether the two men would continue to have their legal fees paid by the university.

Paterno has come under harsh criticism - including from within the community known as Happy Valley - for not taking more action in 2002 after then-graduate assistant and current assistant coach Mike McQueary came to him and reported seeing Sandusky in the Penn State showers with a 10-year-old boy. Paterno notified Curley and Schultz.

Earlier Wednesday, Paterno had said in a statement that he was "absolutely devastated by the developments in this case." "I grieve for the children and their families," said Paterno, "and I pray for their comfort and relief."

Paterno informed his players on Wednesday of his intent to retire in an tear-filled team meeting. Afterward, many players told the media that they had never seen Paterno so emotional.

"In all the clips I've seen of him, I've never seen him break down and cry," quarterback Paul Jones said. "And he was crying the whole time today."

Cornerback Stephon Morris said some players also were nearly in tears themselves. "I still can't believe it. I've never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life," Morris said.

The Penn State football game with Nebraska is still scheduled for this Saturday in the Nittany Lions' home finale. But for the first time since 1950, Paterno will not be there as a member of the Nittany Lions coaching staff.

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Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:09 pm

One Down, One to Go - For Now...

As predicted, Mr. Paterno would not last the work week.  Now that the unfortunate business has been done, let's focus on the sin of cowardice by firing Mr. McQueary.

The firing of McQueary represents a litmus test for those of us on the outside who do not know "the whole story."  What did McQueary really know about Sandusky back in 2002?  Based on his reaction and subsequent consultation with the father, would it be unreasonable to assume that maybe McQueary knew more about Sandusky in 2002 than he was willing to tell a grand jury?  The whole culture of protectionism usually is born of prior knowledge about the protected; thus the consultation with father before going to Paterno.  The fact that McQueary is still around, and has been immune so far, smells quite a bit like he knew and knows more than some things - and has PSU by the money bags

I honestly believe that perjury is not relegated to the AD and VP.  This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, a cover-up that will end up destroying Paterno, McQueary, and the rest of the long-standing coaching staff; by extension, football at PSU will be decimated for years to come.  If anyone really thinks that the entire coaching staff, the athletic department, and administrative officials knew nothing about Sandusky's proclivities as far back as 1998 (I even think before THAT!), then leave the human race and join the ostriches.

They are good at sticking their heads in the sand.

Since: Jan 8, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:00 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

@ Redwings,

So let me get this straight.   (And note, I'm referring to the section of my post that you chose to inappropriate).  Let's say you work in an office.  You're close to retiring and some young kids are visiting the office when an old buddy of yours who recently retired comes in.  The next day, Billy the intern comes and tells you he saw your old partner doing something he thought was "inappropriate" with one of the kids.  Your first response is to call the police?  Perhaps now that will be your response.

My guess is before this incident 95% would have first contacted their boss or CEO.  Then they probably would have brought the guy in and asked him WTF was going on.  Few would have contacted the police based on those facts alone.  With "hindsight" 100% would.

Now, if the words "inappropriate sexual conduct" or "anal sex" are used, then the percentage rises significantly.  However, still many would probably want to contact their superiors and get some verification or direction on how to proceed.  It's the follow up or lack there of that should be the problem.  We still haven't heard from Paterno as to whether or not he gave it a second thought after reporting it to Curley.

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:00 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

idbowhunter, your reference to chain of command is largely referring to the military.  I say that Coach Paterno did the right thing by using the chain of command and reporting the issue to his superiors.  It was also Coash Paterno's responsibility to followup with his superiors to find out what was going to be done by the improper conduct of a member of his coaching staff.  No doubt Coach knew this was a criminal act and when the police werent called, it was then his reponsibility to the victim, his parents, the coaching staff and the university to notify the authorities.  It appears that Penn State failed miserably and protected a predator of kids, instead Penn State thought it was more important to protect this predator and its brand.  I learned a long time ago as a kid, that if I broke the neighbor's window, my dad was gonna be more angry with me if the neighbor had to come and tell him.  Morally Coach Paterno was absolutely wrong!

Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:57 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

Paternos legacy took a lifetime to build and a missed phones call to the authorities to destroy. Listening to the comments Joe has made since all this broke is sickening and I have lost all respect for him. The fact he even mentions football or coaching first let alone at all is disturbing when the most important issue here is the children. Any real man wouldve beaten Sanduskys ass immediately upon seeing that in the shower or in Joes case hearing about it, but he couldve at least called the cops as soon as he heard about it. Quicker actions couldve saved more victims from this kinda unthinkable situation, and who even knows how many more children are out there and too scarred or embarrassed to even come out. I can tell you this, if any idiot dreams of touching my kids they better wake up and apologise!!! And to all Penn St. fans if Matt Millen gets AD job your in trouble...remember what he did to Detroit.

Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:57 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

Say what you want about Miami, Ohio St, LSU, etc., but what they are accused of is nothing compared to what is going on at Penn St.  Some money under the table, tattoos, dinners and girls are chump change when you compare it to Penn State's issues. 

And no way Al Golden leaves Miami for this mess.  The mess he has at Miami is walk in the park compared to what he would have to deal with at Penn St.  Stay in SoBe and call it a day Mr. Golden and be glad you are not in State College.  Who in their right mind would take that job after all of this.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:51 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

"I don't believe that Paterno no even close to the full situation of what happened in that shower.  I don't believe that Paterno should have taken the fall because others did not do their job."

Here is what the grand jury report states..."Paterno testified that the graduat assistant was very upset."  He reported to AD Tim Curley that the graduate assistant had seen "Sandusky in the showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."

So JoePa know what McQueary saw caused him to be very upset a day after the incident, and that the incident involved at a minimum molestation of a child. 

No one in law enforcement was ever notified.  Apparently, JoePa told his "boss" and washed his hands of it.  If that is acceptable to you, so be it.  Many of us hold people to a higher standard when it comes to crimes against children.  I doubt McQueary or Paterno intended for things to work out the way they did, but ultimately, the end result is in part due to the lack of their follow through.

Since: Aug 25, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:48 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

Well Said!! I feel the same way and I have reported people for things less than this.  Anytime a child is being hurt, I report it in a second.  I wish more people would step up and do the right thing!!

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:43 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

"There isn't even a one in a million shot that Joe didn't know something terrible happened to that kid.  How do I know that?  Because if there was any chance Joe didn't know what happened, there isn't a chance in hell he would have been fired."

I disagree with you on this comment Redwings (although I agree with almost everything you said).  I think it's likely that Paterno was fired because he is the most high-profile person there and they needed to symoblically clean house.  McQueary is the person, more than anyone, that ought to be fired at this point, but he's still on staff because nobody knows who he is.  They needed a high-profile head to roll, and Paterno is as high profile as they come.  After reading Paterno's statements, seeing his sincerity, and looking at his history of integrity, I don't believe Paterno truly knew what happened.  

Also, if he was trying to cover himself and save his job he never would have said "I should have done more." Saying that likely sealed his fate as far as the University is concerned.  Admitting that there were failures on a variety of levels meant that the University was going to protect themselves and fire Paterno.  Sad but true.

Since: Aug 3, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:38 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:36 pm

BREAKING: Joe Paterno out at Penn State

People that say Joe Paterno didn't break any laws and only failed morally are incorrect.  Any public school employee is by law, a mandated reporter of any sexual abuse.  Joe Paterno broke the law when he failed to alert authorities immediately.  It was the right decision to fire him immediately.

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