Trustees release statement on Paterno
Last Modified: February 18. 2013 5:49PM
Paterno, in the midst of his 46th season as head football coach and 62nd overall at the school, was fired Nov. 9 as Penn State became embroiled in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
‚??Given the nature of the serious allegations contained in the Grand Jury Report and the extraordinary circumstances then facing the University, the Board‚??s unanimous judgment was that Coach Paterno could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties and that it was in the best interests of the University to make an immediate change in his status,‚?Ě the board said in a statement from chair Steve Garban and vice-chairman John Surma.
The statement came less than 24 hours after Penn State President Rodney Erickson hosted a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh that generated several questions from alumni and donors about Paterno‚??s firing.
Surma had fielded questions on the night of Nov. 9 at a chaotic, hastily assembled news conference, announcing the ousting of Paterno and Graham Spanier, the university president.
When asked multiple times for rationale behind the removal of Paterno, Surma responded that it was ‚??in the best interest‚?Ě of the university, but did not elaborate.
Thursday‚??s statement provided few other details.
According to the board, Paterno is being treated as if he retired at the end of 2011 season and remains employed by the university as a tenured faculty member. The school will publicize the details of his retirement when they are finalized.
Paterno‚??s son Scott responded Thursday, speaking on his father‚??s behalf.
‚??As has become apparent, the termination on November 9, with no notice or hearing, was not handled well,‚?Ě Scott Paterno said in a statement to The Associated Press. ‚??Joe Paterno has reiterated from the beginning that the first priority in this crisis is to serve the best interests of the victims. He believes strongly that everyone involved is entitled to due process.‚?Ě
Since being fired, Joe Paterno has spoken only through statements issued by his family and attorney. It was revealed a week later that Paterno, 85, had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The controversy began Nov. 5 with the arrest of Sandusky. The long-time Paterno assistant was initially charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of children. The former defensive coordinator now faces 52 charges against 12 alleged victims.
Sandusky pleaded not guilty to all counts in December, waiving his preliminary hearing.
According to the grand jury report, one of the alleged assaults occurred at the football team‚??s Lasch Building headquarters in 2002 and was witnessed by former Penn State aide Mike McQueary. Then a graduate assistant, McQueary talked to Paterno, who in turn met with two senior Penn State administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
Curley and Schultz are charged with lying to the grand jury, which deemed their testimonies were not credible against McQueary‚??s. Both men pleaded not guilty to counts of perjury and failure to report abuse of minors in December.
Paterno had been set to address the situation on Nov. 8, but his regularly scheduled weekly press conference was abruptly canceled.
With public scrutiny intensifying, Paterno announced the next morning he would retire at the end of the season, saying that, in hindsight, he wished he had done more to bring allegations against Sandusky to light. He also said the board of trustees ‚??should not waste one minute‚?Ě discussing his fate as the university was beset by scandal.
Nearly 12 hours later, the board fired him, appointing Tom Bradley interim head coach. New England Patriots assistant Bill O‚??Brien was hired as the full-time replacement last week after a lengthy search.
Scott Paterno said his father believes that the ensuing ‚??wholesale attack on the football program and Penn State‚??s academic record ‚?Ľ is unjustified.
‚??This is a crisis that deserves thoughtful and thorough review,‚?Ě Scott Paterno said. ‚??In the course of that review and analysis, however, the legitimate achievements of this University and the many good people who worked so hard to build it into a world class institution should not be disrespected. My parents are unwavering in their loyalty and dedication to Penn State.‚?Ě