Penn State Fires President & Head Coach Over Child Abuse Scandal

Officials at Penn State may have failed to take action when they were first told that Defensive Coordinatory Jerry Sandusky had been abusing at least eight boys for more than a decade, but tonight they took decisive action — now that the allegations have exploded into a masive scandal. This evening Penn State trustees fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno, as well as university president Graham Spanier.

Earlier this week, 84-year-old Paterno announced that this would be his last season with the Nittany Lions. According to the New York Times, Paterno didn't consult with the trustees before releasing a statement about how he'd graciously agreed to step down at the end of the year. He said:

"At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Now the trustees have decided after "careful deliberations" that it's in "the best interests of the university as a whole" that Paterno leave immediately. Apparently they feel that you shouldn't get to enjoy a few weeks of speeches about your stellar career and lavish retirement celebrations when you failed to report the sexual abuse of a child.

In 2002, after a graduate assistant saw Sandusky anally raping a 10-year-old boy in Penn State's football showers, he told Paterno, who reported it to university officials but not the police. President Spanier was also informed of the incident, but decided the reputation of the school's football team was more important than stopping Sandusky.

Spanier has been in office since 1995 and earns $620,000, making him one of the longest-serving and highest-paid college presidents in the country. He hasn't said anything about the scandal since releasing a statement supporting Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, who were charged with perjury and failing to report child abuse.

Disgustingly, there are many who would just like ignore that Paterno and Spanier's failure to report the abuse. Students have held rallies outside Paterno's home and at the university's administration building to show support for the coach. Paterno called a team meeting today to tell players he was leaving and they gave him a standing ovation as he left the room. No matter how much they loved the coach or what he's done for Penn State in the past, right now it's hard to imagine applauding a man who was in a position to prevent children from being harmed and chose to do nothing.

Paterno Is Finished At Penn State, and President Is Out [NYT]
Paterno Fired Over Penn St. Child Abuse Scandal [CBS News]

Earlier: Legendary Penn State Coach Prolific At Winning, Child Abuse