Penn State head coach Joe Paterno stands with his team before they take the field during an NCAA college football game against the University of Wisconsin in State College, Pa., on Oct. 13, 2007.
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno stands with his team before they take the field during an NCAA college football game against the University of Wisconsin in State College, Pa., on Oct. 13, 2007. Carolyn Kaster/AP
In a report issued today, the board of directors of Penn State University confirmed what everyone already figured: They fired head coach Joe Paterno over his actions concerning the sexual abuse allegations against his once assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The university said it made its decision based on a grand jury report that said graduate student Mike McQueary had told the coach that he saw Sandusky "in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
The board says:
"While Coach Paterno did his legal duty by reporting that information the next day, Sunday, March 3, to his immediate superior, the then Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, the Board reasonably inferred that he did not call police. We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno."
Paterno, who is credited with making the Penn football program what it is, was fired in November. He died in late January of complications from lung cancer. Sandusky is awaiting trial on child sex abuse charges.
NPR's Jeff Brady tells our Newcast unit that the report from the university comes amid sustained criticism from the university's students and fans.
In the report, the trustees also say they were "sorry" to have delivered the news of his firing over the phone, but say that they "did not believe there was a dignified, private and secure way to send Board representatives to meet with him there."
When they delivered the news, the report recounts, Paterno "ended the call" before the board member could tell him that his employment contract would continue and that he would retain his "status as a tenured faculty member."
Update at 3:48 p.m. Statement From Paterno's Family:
NPR's Jeff Brady sends along a statement given to him by Wick Soller, an attorney for the Paterno family. It reads in part:
"At various times University officials have said that they fired Joe Paterno. At other times they have said they didn't fire him. They have simultaneously accused him of moral and leadership failures, and praised him for the high standards he set for the University.
"The tough questions that have yet to be addressed relate not to Joe Paterno, but to the Board. Two months ago, as Joe Paterno was dying, the Board conducted a series of media interviews condemning him for 'moral' failures. Now they are trying a different tack and accusing him of "leadership" failures. The question we would ask is simply this, when will the Board step up and acknowledge that the ultimate responsibility for this crisis is theirs? Everyone who cares about Penn State is longing for strong, courageous, honest leadership. Today's statement is anything but that."