Penn State To Appoint Investigative Committee

Penn State University's Board of Trustees holds an open board meeting Friday. Earlier this week, the board fired head football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier. Two high-level administrators have been charged with failing to report alleged child sex abuse by a former coach.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The assistant coach who made allegations of child sex abuse at Penn State will not be on the sidelines for Saturday's game. Mike McQueary will not coach due to security concerns. Head coach Joe Paterno won't be there either, of course. He was fired, along with the university president, for a weak response to what that assistant said he saw: a former assistant coach, the defensive coordinator, sexually abusing a young boy in a locker room.

Penn State trustees are meeting this morning, talking about a committee to investigate the incident. And we're going to talk about that with NPR's Jeff Brady, who is in State College, Pennsylvania. Jeff, I gather you've been in or witnessing this meeting.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Yes, the meeting started just about a half an hour ago. The room is pretty much packed with people. These are meetings where only a few people, generally, show up. And of course, there's a lot of interest in this meeting. And we heard from the interim president of Penn State, who was just appointed – Rodney Erickson – and at the moment, actually, they're going through some enrollment stats for the board of trustees.

INSKEEP: You just said Rodney Erickson, is that the person who's heading this committee? Who is he?

BRADY: No, Rodney Erickson is the new interim president.

INSKEEP: Oh, he is the new interim president. OK. Excuse me.

BRADY: Right. And this is the first time that we heard from him. He had a statement that he delivered. He said that his heart aches for the victims and that healing can't happen until the university and the community surrounding the university understand how the children involved here were hurt, and how to make sure that never happens again. And he said that Penn State is not adrift, that there is a vision for going forward. And he said he's not just a caretaker in this interim president position. But his goal is that he's going to help start the process of restoring Penn State's reputation.

INSKEEP: Now, Jeff Brady, when you say that the interim president is saying that the process of healing cannot begin until people know what happened, what we've seen more and more of in just the last couple of days, are questions about who knew about this and how long they knew. And is seems to be an ever widening circle of people who may face questions about why they didn't do more.

BRADY: Yeah, and that is what we're finding out. And this committee is going to have a task ahead of it in determining that. They have some very specific questions that they're supposed to answer. This – the board of trustees wants to know what failures occurred here and who's responsible and what can be done to make sure it doesn't happen again, of course. And then, the final part of that is going to be that those who are responsible are held fully responsible.

INSKEEP: Just a few seconds left here, but is it possible that more people could be facing loss of their jobs, at a minimum, here?

BRADY: Yeah, it certainly feels like, from here, that the new information coming out has not - we're going to hear a lot more in the coming weeks, and possibly even months, as this committee does its work.

INSKEEP: Jeff, thanks very much.

BRADY: Thank you.

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