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UPDATE: Penn State’s trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier late Wednesday, a move that prompted thousands of the school’s students to take to the streets and riot.
The New York Times reports that the mob flipped over a news van, tore down lampposts and threw rocks and cans. The police responded with riot gear and tear gas, although as of Thursday morning State College police said they were still gathering information on any possible arrests.
The decision to oust Paterno came on the same day that the legendary coach announced that he would retire at the end of this season.
"Right now, I'm not the football coach. And I've got to get used to that. After 61 years, I've got to get used to it," the 84-year-old Paterno told reporters late Wednesday, speaking outside his house. "Let me think it through."
Paterno will be replaced as head coach by defensive coordinator Tom Bradley; provost Rodney Erickson will be the interim school president.
UPDATE Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 4:42 p.m.: Penn State University President Graham Spanier could be the next official to take a fall in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.
Local news sources are reporting that the board of trustees has given Spanier the option to resign or be fired. The board is holding an emergency meeting tonight to discuss his status, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Several outlets have called for his ouster in the wake of revelations that the school failed to follow up on allegations that Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, raped and molested numerous young boys on campus.
And while head coach Joe Paterno announced this morning that he'll step down after the season, there's still a chance the board will oust him sooner than that. The trustees will be discussing his job as well as Spanier's tonight, according to several outlets.
UPDATE Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 11:05 a.m.: Joe Paterno will retire at the end of this season, he announced Wednesday morning.
"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case," the long-time Penn State football coach said in a statement. "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."
Paterno, who has been the school's head football coach for more than four decades, is in the last year of his contract. A legend on campus, his legacy has been tainted by the sex-abuse allegations against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Philadelphia's Fox 29 News is reporting that the number of accusers may have risen to as many as 17 since the news broke Monday.
While Paterno apparently told the school's former athletic director about a 2002 incident in which Sandusky allegedly raped a 10-year-old boy in the showers at the school's athletic complex, he has been criticized for not following up or intervening further. A source told the AP that Sandusky maintained an office in the locker room for years and had access to the weight room as recently as last week.
"This is a tragedy," Paterno said in his statement. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
University trustees will appoint a special committee to investigate the scandal, including "what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure that this never happens at our university again," Reuters reports. The trustees are "outraged by the horrifying details contained in the grand jury report," they said in a statement.
Still, some students are standing by Paterno. ESPN reports that several hundred rallied outside his home Tuesday night and were thrilled when the coach emerged to greet them:
The 84-year-old coach looked happier than any senior citizen ever to have kids trample his lawn. He exited the passenger side of a white university van to thank the students in his driveway. A few minutes after that, he opened his front window to say a few more words as the crowd surged forward to hear him. And just when everybody was about to disperse some 30 minutes later, a grinning Paterno walked out the front door to address the students one more time.
"I can't tell you how much this means to me," he said. "I've lived for this place. I've lived for people like you guys and girls."
He didn't directly address Sandusky's actions or his own response, but asked the students to say a prayer for the alleged victims, adding, "it's a tough life when people do certain things to you."
Here's Paterno's full statement (via Associated Press):
I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.
I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. 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.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.
POST Tuesday, Nov. 8: The Penn State sex-abuse scandal could mean the end of Joe Paterno’s legendary 46-year run as head football coach, the New York Times is reporting.
Citing “two people briefed on conversations among the university’s top officials,” the paper reports that Paterno could be out within days or weeks:
"The board of trustees has yet to determine the precise timing of Paterno’s exit, but it is clear that the man who has more victories than any other coach at college football’s top level and who made Penn State a prestigious brand will not survive to coach another season. Discussions about how to manage his departure have begun, according to the two people."
The school has canceled Paterno’s weekly press conference, in which he was expected to take questions about the disturbing allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. "Due to the ongoing legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled," assistant athletic director Jeff Nelson said in a statement.
Paterno’s son told the Associated Press his father was disappointed and had been prepared to take questions about both the scandal and the school’s upcoming football game against Nebraska.
Some Pennsylvania newspapers are already calling for the ouster of both Paterno and university president Graham Spanier. The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., ran a rare full-front-page editorial on Tuesday calling on Spanier to step down:
There are the obligations we all have to uphold the law. Then there are the obligations we all have to do what is right. It has become increasingly clear that while Penn State University President Graham Spanier has not been charged with breaking any laws, he did not do what is right—for his school or, more importantly, for the alleged victims of coaching legend Jerry Sandusky. Spanier needs to step aside. If he doesn’t, the university board of trustees needs to take that step when it meets this week. As for Joe Paterno, the face of Penn State and the man who has pushed for excellence on the football field and for the entire university, this must be his last season.
In Slate, lifelong Nittany Lions fan Torie Bosch examines how Paterno created an aura of moral superiority around the program, which has now been shattered. And Slate's "Explainer" looks at the differences between regular police and campus police, two of whom face perjury charges in the Penn State scandal.