Growing up in the Delaware Valley, Joe Paterno was an institution, sort of the area’s college football equivalent of Tom Landry — he was always there, and always will be.
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.
What an ignominious end — but if the allegations swirling tonight are accurate, what an disgraceful lapse in judgement from a man viewed by many in the Philadelphia area as a benevolent father figure:
While Joe Paterno was not accused of legal wrong doing by the grand jury, advocates for sexual abuse victims have called for charges to be brought against him for not contacting the police himself. On November 7, Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said that though some may have fulfilled their legal obligation to report suspected abuse, “somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child,” and that, “I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.” Further, criticism and condemnation of Penn State leadership and Paterno himself, including calls for his dismissal, followed reports of these arrests for their role in “protecting Penn State’s brand instead of a child”, and allowing Sandusky to retain emeritus status and unfettered access to the university’s football program and facilities despite knowledge of the allegations of sexual abuse. On November 8, 2011 The Patriot-News of Harrisburg published a rare full-page, front-page editorial calling for the immediate resignation of Penn State President Graham Spanier; it also called for this to be Joe Paterno’s last season. The same day, an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called for the resignations of both Joe Paterno and his assistant coach Mike McQueary.
Beyond Paterno’s firing, Jon Ondrasik of Sports Illustrated writes, “If what we know is what we think we know, Penn State Football should be shuttered. If the NCAA’s standard for the ‘Death Penalty’ is SMU’s covering up of ‘recruiting violations’ how can there every be another game at Happy Valley?”
Update: “Rioting Penn State Students Topple TV Van & Attack Reporter in Wake of Paterno Firing,” The Blaze reports, adding, “Officers used pepper spray to control the crowd. Some students chanted ‘We want Joe! We want Joe!” Others kicked in the windows out of the toppled news van.” Click over for a photo of the toppled, demolished van and much more.
Meanwhile, via Breitbart TV, “Live On CNN: PSU Students Chant ‘F**k The Trustees’ In Wake Of Paterno Ouster.” Great priorities there gang — and exceptionally advanced skill with the English language, to boot: