The Penn State University board of trustees dismissed the school's legendary football coach Joe Paterno on Wednesday as well as the university president, Graham Spanier, in the wake of child molestation charges against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Following revelations that several school officials, including Paterno, had not acted to stop Sandusky even after being told of his allegeded transgressions, the university board moved quickly. “In our view, we thought change now was necessary,” board vice chair John Surma said at a news conference.
The annoucement sent angry students into the streets where they shouted support for Paterno and tipped over a news van.
Earlier in the day the 84-year-old Paterno had announced that he would retire at the conclusion of this season. Paterno has been at the school for 61 years and has been the head coach of the football team since 1966. He said he was "absolutely devastated" by the developments in the case. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief,” Paterno said.
"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," he said.
Paterno recently passed legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will take over for Paterno on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
Paterno did inform the athletic director of what he was told a graduate assistant had seen, which was Sandusky having sex in a football locker room shower with an underaged boy back in 2002. But school officials never reported Sandusky, who was retired from coaching by then, to the authorities.
Many feel that while Paterno did what he was supposed to do legally by informing his boss of what had been reported, Paterno’s moral obligation was to do more. Sandusky has been indicted on 40 counts of child sexual misconduct due to alleged actions with as many as eight young boys.
Twelfth-ranked Penn State has one final home game this season coming up Saturday against Nebraska. Then the team has two more regular season games and a bowl game.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.
(Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)