Report: Penn St. planning Paterno’s exit
Penn State University officials are discussing how to end the historic career of football coach Joe Paterno after the school was rocked by child sex abuse charges leveled against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The university is reportedly still hashing out how the 84-year-old Paterno’s tenure will end, but have concluded that he will not be back in 2012 for a 47th season. Later on Tuesday, the school’s board of trustees announced it will appoint a special committee to examine the ”circumstances” that led to the scandal and possible cover-up.
Paterno said Tuesday he wanted to address the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed his football program, but was not given the chance by university president Graham Spanier when his weekly news conference was abruptly called off with less than an hour to go.
Paterno said Spanier canceled the press conference without providing him with an explanation for the decision, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
"I know you guys have a lot of questions. And I was hoping I was going to be able to answer them today," the 84-year-old coach said as he left his house to attend practice.
Paterno’s son, Scott, said on Twitter that there have been no discussions between the university and his father about an exit plan.
Though he has not been charged with a crime, Paterno is facing a massive backlash over his immediate response to learning of Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of a child in 2002.
The athletic department had said Monday night that Paterno would only answer questions about Saturday’s game against Nebraska. Paterno, though, claimed after the cancellation that he was prepared to answer questions about the scandal.
As for the NCAA and Big Ten, they have both been tight-lipped about the scandal. NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson declined to answer questions about the matter Tuesday night and instead provided FOXSports.com with a statement made by NCAA president Mark Emmert.
“This is a criminal matter under investigation by law enforcement authorities and I will not comment on details,” Emmert said in the statement. “However, I have read the grand jury report and find the alleged assaults appalling. As a parent and an educator, the notion that anyone would use a position of trust to prey on children is despicable. My thoughts and concern go out to the alleged victims and their families.”
Scott Chipman, the Big Ten’s assistant commissioner for communications, declined to answer questions about Penn State on Tuesday night and told FOXSports.com the conference has no comment because of “the ongoing criminal investigation.”
The Times reported that Paterno has quickly lost support among the school’s board of trustees since Sandusky’s arrest Saturday.
Sandusky, 67, has been charged with 21 felony counts for allegedly abusing eight victims over a period of 15 years. The allegations were laid out in a grand jury report.
Six of the eight alleged victims have been identified by investigators, but their names have not been made public.
A possible ninth victim came forward to police over the weekend after seeing the reports of Sandusky’s arrest, according to the Patriot-News.
Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz were charged with perjury for failing to notify authorities about the allegations. They stepped down from their positions Sunday night in order to defend themselves.
According to the indictment, Paterno notified Curley after a then-graduate assistant on his coaching staff reported that he witnessed Sandusky having sexual intercourse with a boy in the Penn State locker room shower. Sandusky was no longer a coach at the school, but had access to the locker room as part of a non-profit organization he ran for at-risk children.
Paterno’s legal requirement was that he notify his superior, but on Monday Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan suggested there was a "moral responsibility" for the coach to make sure police were contacted.
Noonan’s obvious disapproval was echoed Tuesday by one of the victim’s parents, who lashed out at university officials for their handling of the situation.
"I’m so upset," said the mother of the now 24-year-old victim, who is referred to as Victim Six in the indictment. "My son is extremely distraught, and now to see how we were betrayed, words cannot tell you.
"To see that Graham Spanier is putting his unconditional support behind Curley and Shultz when he should be putting his support behind the victims, it just makes them victims all over again."
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Monday the university’s failure to report the alleged incidents to police or child-protection officials likely led to further victimization of young boys for several years.
"I don’t even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel," said the mother of Victim Six. "[McQueary] was a grown man, and he saw a boy being sodomized … He ran and called his daddy?"
In a statement released Sunday night, Paterno maintained he did what he "was supposed to do" under the law.
After learning of the alleged 2002 incident, the university banned Sandusky from holding youth football camps on the main campus, but he continued to hold the events on Penn State satellite campuses until 2008.
Sandusky was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, but the hearing has been pushed back to Dec. 7, the Patriot-News reported.
— FOXSports.com’s Thayer Evans contributed to this report.