Rage Runs Rampant After Paterno Is Fired

By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)— In the end, the pressure proved to be insurmountable—even for a legendary icon. In the end, Joe Paterno, for decades a paragon of ethics and thought to be Penn State’s untouchable man, was brought down after 46 seasons as Penn State’s football coach in the aftermath of the sexual-abuse charges pending against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno, along with Penn State president Graham Spanier, were fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday night in a unanimous vote by the trustee members.

Assistant coach Tom Bradley will be the interim head coach of the Nittany Lions the remainder of the season. This Saturday, Penn State is scheduled to play No. 19 Nebraska in the last home game of the season—and a day honoring the seniors.

Just a week after becoming the winningest coach in Division I history, and a winner of national championships in 1982 and 1986, Paterno will regrettably be synonymous with the ignominious departures of Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, and more recently, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel’s ouster before this season. Paterno, so diligent and conscience about keeping Penn State “clean,” may forever be tainted by this tragic drama that’s ripped apart the very Penn State program Paterno built.

“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 that,” Paterno said. Then in a later statement, Paterno said: “I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it. A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.

“I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will forever be in your debt.”

The 84-year-old Paterno was told over the phone that he was no longer the Nittany Lions’ coach.

Board of Trustees’ Vice Chairman John Surma announced: “The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community. But the outrage we feel is nothing in comparison compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place. The Penn State Board of Trustees decided tonight that it’s in the best interests of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing. The Board of Trustees and Graham Spanier have decided that effective immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer president of the university. In addition, Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately.”

The announcement stirred shouts of protest from the students gathered at the press conference that were quickly silenced … allowing Surma to continue, “These decisions were made after careful deliberations and in the best interests of the university as a whole. Penn State has always strived for honesty, integrity and the highest moral standards in all of our activities. We promise you that we are committed to restoring the public trust to our university.”

Surma answered a number of questions from the media: “We thought, because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, and they are great, we thought it was necessary for us to make a change in the leadership and set a course in a new direction. I’m not about to set that to specific reasons, issues, that’s the Boards collective judgment and that’s what we did, and there’s nothing more than that.”

As a reaction to the decision, outbursts among Penn State students broke out early Thursday morning, with chants of “One more game, one more game” throughout the small-town college campus in support of Paterno. Outrage spilled over into rage in the streets of State College. A news van was turned over. Riot police sprayed mace to disburse students, while some media had rocks thrown at them.

beaver avenue Rage Runs Rampant After Paterno Is Fired

Students flock to Beaver Avenue to show their support for Paterno (credit: Oren Liebermann)

Bradley and the Penn State coaching staff inherits a mess. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 12.

“The players are angry, really angry, we thought we’d get Coach Paterno until at least the rest of the season,” a source close to the program said. “The worst thing about this is the stain on Paterno and the program, and all because the school never really handled this properly from the beginning. This is really embarrassing. Spanier deserved to be fired. Paterno, I don’t know about. Do you think this team is ready to play a football game on Saturday in amidst of all of this?”

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    Idiot drunken college kids with no wisdom to understand the meat of the case.

    This is probably why the victims didn’t want to come forward. They were probably afraid to say no, or that they wouldn’t be heard or no one would believe them.

    Until now. Until today. Ten years later. Shame on PSU

  • craig

    the perfumed princes upstairs needed a fall guy with guilt by association’who else could it be besides Joe Pat.

  • jwags

    are you kidding me a riot over the firing of joe paterno.i say goodbye and good riddance.this man was an icon and a legend not only for his accomplishments on the field but for his charity work and generosity and to some probably a hero except for when it would have counted the most when those poor kids needed a hero someone to save them from the monster who perpetrated these unspeakable acts on them yeah you were a hero except when you were needed to be one the most

  • Cathy

    PSU is a State University and that means that it gets considerable funding from our tax-paying dollars. I feel the Broad of Trustees should also find it within themselves for not acting or handling this properly from the beginning. Instead they are now “rolling heads” and picking “scape-goats” at an attempt to try and save face. The Broad would like us to believe they had no knowledge of these heinous acts. Surma said this, “Penn State has always strived for honesty, integrity and the highest moral standards in all of our activities.” Well if honesty is what they want to strive for then they all should step down as well. Why are they spending so much energy on penalizing those who where not directly involved when they will not penalize themselves?

  • ADS

    TJ…REALLY!!! He isnt being made a scapegoat! The fact of the matter is he did not go to the police…PERIOD! He should have gone straight to the police as soon as he was made aware of what was going on! It is not as if these were just rumors…these acts were witnessed by someone who was terrified by what they saw. Since he didnt go to the police as soon as he was made aware, he should have gone as soon as he realized that nothing was being done! It is because of him and others like him that knew what was happening and did nothing to stop it that more children were allowed to be RAPED by this MONSTER!!!
    This has nothing to do with his football career…this has everything to do with those poor boys that were being brutalized.

  • kjh

    Personally I think on the outside chance that Penn State goes to a bowl game, revenues should be given to a fund for victims of child abuse.

    And the new administration should consider a mandatory course for all students and staff on sexual abuse.

  • deb

    You know why! Because the legal system totally SUCKS in this country and it takes years to solve even the simplest cases. I myself have been experiencing its failure for two full years now and I realize there is no justic through the system. By the time you get justice your life is ruined and will never be the same again so the only way to respond is to just take matters into your own hands or you will never get any justice!
    You definitely don’t get what you want by going through “the process”.

  • Ralph MacKelvey

    How anyone can view Paterno as a man wth high ideals is beyond me. I am sure he didn’t take take decisive action when these crimes were brought to his attention had more to do with his image,association with Sandusky and his abiliy to recruit players rather than the concern for the victims or the university. No one weilded more power on campus than Paterno( in 2005 he was asked to resign by his “superior and he flat out said no) so now he wants people to think he could get a free ride simply by passing off his resonsibility to his supposed superiors. Paterno and narcissism are synonymous !!!!

  • Anita Jimenez

    The riots in downtown State College is the exact reason why I think that Joe Paterno should have been allowed to finish out the football season.I have spent more than my half of my adult life in State College and I fully expected this to happen. The Board of Trustees should have been aware as well that this would be a possibility. I blame the Board of Trustees for this riot and feel that they should be replaced as well.

    • john williliam

      I think with today’s technology they should get the kids who turned over the van and are throwing rocks and file charges. Are they there to be students or are we training them to be future terrorist that if you don’t get what you want you act this way. This is the problem with American today no one is holding anyone accountable lets start now and put the little creaps in jail for the crimes they just committed.

      • TJ

        Terrorists???? Are you serious??? I guess the Irish were terrorists for throwing rocks at the English when they started firing at a peaceful protest. Or perhaps the founding father were terrorists….John you are daft. It was about anger and outrage over a man being made a scapegoat….

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