Paterno fired for 'failure of leadership'
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Penn State's Board of Trustees unanimously relieved head coach Joe Paterno of his duties on Nov. 9 in the wake of an evolving sexual abuse scandal. (Tim Shaffer/Reuters/Files)
STATE COLLEGE, PA. - Penn State's Board of Trustees issued a report Monday to clearly state its reasons for the firing of Joe Paterno in November and said the late head coach's lack of action regarding certain allegations of sexual child abuse by former assistant Jerry Sandusky "constituted a failure of leadership."
The Board of Trustees unanimously relieved Paterno of his duties on the evening of Nov. 9 in the wake of the evolving scandal involving Sandusky, who has denied allegations of sexual child abuse.
Penn State alumni and members of the university community had asked the Board to explain its decision to fire Paterno, who, earlier that fateful day, had indicated his decision to retire at the conclusion of the season. Penn State had just three games remaining when Paterno was dimissed.
According to Monday's report, the Board learned of Paterno's sworn Grand Jury testimony only four days before the coach's dismissal. Paterno told the Grand Jury of then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary's claim that he saw Sandusky "doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
The Board said that while Paterno rightfully informed his superior, then-Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, of McQueary's assertions, it was 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."
As for why Paterno learned of his fate over the phone, the Board said it really had no alternative because of the media presence.
"We are sorry for the unfortunate way we had to deliver the news on the telephone to Coach Paterno," the Board wrote Monday. "Because Coach Paterno's home was surrounded by media representatives, photographers and others, we did not believe there was a dignified, private and secure way to send Board representatives to meet with him there. Nor did we believe it would be wise to wait until the next morning, since we believed it was probable that Coach Paterno would hear the news beforehand from other sources, which would be inappropriate."
The Board also wrote Monday that Paterno would have been offered an apology for the dismissal over the phone and that his employment contract would have continued with financial benefits, but he ended the call after being told of his firing.
Paterno was part of the Penn State community from 1950, when he first arrived as an assistant coach, until his death this past January. He died at age 85 after a brief battle with lung cancer.
The Board also said Monday that university president Graham Spanier was also dismissed because he "failed to meet his leadership responsibilities... and took insuffucient action after learning of a 2002 incident" involving Sandusky.