Penn State fires Paterno
Penn State finally fired Joe Paterno in response to the child sex-abuse scandal involving Paterno’s one-time heir apparent.
Students reacted in anger, taking to the streets in support of Paterno, and even tipping over a news van, destroying property, and throwing rocks, among other chaotic activities.
Rob Bolden, Penn State quarterback, aptly described the scene when he Tweeted on Wednesday, “This week has been like a movie… messed up.”
Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, was also removed from his post. Both public figures were fired by the board of trustees, who were notably frustrated with the damage on the university’s reputation with all the scandals.
84-year-old Paterno was reported as saying, “After 61 years, I’ve got to get used to [not being the football coach.]”
Although Paterno had earlier announced his intentions of retiring by the end of this season, the board of trustees apparently were not appeased.
John Surma, vice chair of the board, said that he was not sure if he would be able to explain why Paterno had to be dismissed in this way.
“In our view, change now was necessary,” he said.
As soon as the news of the firing reached the student body, thousands of them stormed the administration building, shouting, “One more game!” and “We want Joe back!” From there, they took to Beaver Avenue, where they were met with 100 police with helmets and pepper spray.
Witnesses described the students as throwing bottles and rocks, with a lamppost being toppled, and a news van overturned with its windows all kicked out.
By Thursday, State College police announced that they were still gathering details of possible arrests.
Surma revealed that the decisions to fire Spanier and Paterno had been unanimous.
Following the dismissals, Tom Bradley, defensive coordinator, will be interim coach. A news conference was scheduled with him by the university for Thursday morning.
This Saturday, Penn State will be hosting Nebraska in the final home game of this season. Typically, this day was set aside to honor the team’s seniors.
Meanwhile, the school president post will be held by provost Rodney Erickson for the moment.
Criticism had been mounting for Paterno, apparently for not doing anything more to prevent the alleged abuse done by Jerry Sandusky, former defensive coordinator.
Sandusky has been accused of molesting eight boys aged more than 15 years, with some of the assaults reportedly happening at the football complex of Penn State. One such incident was reportedly witnessed by Mike McQueary, who is the current assistant coach and was a graduate assistant in 2002 when the incident took place.
McQueary reportedly approached Paterno with the incident in the showers; from there, Paterno shared the incident with Tim Curley, the athletic director, as well as Gary Schultz, a vice president, who subsequently informed Spanier.
Both Schultz and Curley have been charged with the failure to report the event to authorities.
While Paterno himself is not involved in the criminal investigation, his failure to alert the authorities himself was considered by the state police commissioner a lapse in moral responsibility.