Board of Trustees fire Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier

By Shawn Annarelli

Penn State’s Board of Trustees announced that they fired head football coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier on Wednesday night.

Trustees met via conference call on Tuesday night, and then met formally at the Penn Stater Conference Hotel on Wednesday evening. Following Wednesday’s meeting the Board held a press conference, and board vice chair John Surma announced that Paterno and Spanier were no longer employees of Penn State University. The dismissals end Spanier’s 16-year run as president and Paterno’s 46-year run as head football coach.

The Board’s decision to fire Spanier came by a mutual agreement between the Board and Spanier. The Board’s decision to fire Paterno came via a brief telephone call.

“The Board of Trustees and Graham Spanier have decided that, effective immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer president of the University,” Surma said. “In addition, Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach effective immediately.”

The press conference came 12 hours after Paterno had announced he would retire at the end of the season and urged the Board to address more important matters than him as head coach. Paterno’s initial resignation statement and subsequent dismissal as head football coach came five days after a grand jury presentment was released. The grand jury presentment detailed alleged acts of sexual abuse between 1994 and 2009 by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky was arrested on Saturday morning and released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts of allegedly sexually abusing eight boys who were a part of Sandusky’s Second Mile program. Athletic Director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report a crime on the same day and turned themselves in on Monday morning. Curley and Schultz were each released on $75,000 bail. Schultz has retired, and Curley has taken a leave of absence.

Current Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary testified to witnessing Sandusky committing a sexual assault on a young boy within the showers of Penn State’s Lasch Football building in 2002. McQueary, according to the grand jury presentment, relayed information of the incident to his father and to Paterno, who relayed information of the incident to Curley. However, McQueary was never questioned by campus police or any other investigation until 2010. McQueary has not been charged with a crime and has not been fired.

Paterno has been replaced by interim head football coach Tom Bradley, who played and then coached under Paterno since 1977. Spanier has been replaced by Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney A. Erickson.

“Right now, I’m not the football coach, and I’ve got to get used to that,” Paterno said outside of his home following the press conference. “After 61 years, I’ve got to get used to it. I appreciate it. Let me think it through.”

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