By Jim Melwert
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) — A Penn State alumni group that has been very critical of the university’s board of trustees says the departure of football coach Bill O’Brien is just a symptom of bigger problems at the school.
Two people familiar with the negotiations say the Houston Texans (2-14) have reached an agreement to secure the services of O’Brien as their head coach.
O’Brien took over at Penn State after the departure of Joe Paterno two years ago. Prior to that he was an offensive coach with the New England Patriots.
Maribeth Roman Schmidt, a spokeswoman for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, says O’Brien earned his place in Penn State history.
“We viewed him as being a beacon during some very dark days,” she tells KYW Newsradio. And she says no one should fault O’Brien for following his dream.
But Schmidt says her group feels O’Brien’s departure at this time is a leadership issue that became apparent because of a football coach but might also have arisen over someone in the engineering department.
“They’re having to work with trustees who have not shown themselves to be honest, a president who has not shown himself to be very strong, and, in the case of athletics, an unqualified athletic director who slid into that position from a trustee’s seat,” she says.
Rodney Erickson has been serving as interim president since Graham Spanier resigned in November 2011, following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The search for Spanier’s replacement continues.