STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach who preached good results with honor for half a century but whose legend was shattered by a kid sex abuse scandal, said Wednesday he will retire at the finish of this season.
Paterno mentioned he was “absolutely devastated” by the case, in which his one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, which includes at the Penn State football complicated.
He said he hoped the team could finish its season with “dignity and determination.”
The trustees could nonetheless force him to leave right away. It also could take action against the university president, Graham Spanier.
He stated the school’s Board of Trustees, which had been considering his fate, must “not devote a single minute discussing my status” and has a lot more critical matters to address.
The beloved 84-year-old Paterno has been engulfed by outrage that he did not do much more to cease Sandusky following a graduate assistant came to Paterno in 2002 following allegedly getting observed the former assistant coach molesting a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers.
“This is a tragedy,” Paterno mentioned in a statement released Wednesday. “It is 1 of the fantastic sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Paterno briefly talked to players in the auditorium of the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football Building. Standing at a podium, the coach told them he was leaving, then broke down in tears.
Players gave him a standing ovation when he walked out.
The decision to retire by the man affectionately known as “Joe Pa” brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers, not just in college football, but in all sports. Paterno won 409 games, a record for significant college football, and is in the middle of his 46th year as coach.
His figure patrolling the sideline — thick-rimmed glasses and windbreaker, tie and khaki pants — was as unmistakable at Penn State as its classic blue and white uniforms and the name Content Valley, a location exactly where no one came close to Paterno’s stature.
The retirement announcement came 3 days just before Penn State hosts Nebraska in its final home game of the season, a day set aside to honor seniors on the team.
Paterno has been questioned about how he acted when a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, reported the incident to him in 2002.
Paterno notified Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. Curley and Schultz have considering that been charged with failing to report the incident to the authorities.
Paterno hasn’t been accused of legal wrongdoing. But he has been assailed, in what the state police commissioner named a lapse of “moral responsibility,” for not carrying out much more to stop Sandusky, whose lawyer says he is innocent.
In the statement, Paterno said: “I grieve for the young children and their households, and I pray for their comfort and relief.”
He went on: “I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear objective in thoughts: To serve the greatest interests of this university and the young guys who have been entrusted to my care. I have the identical objective today.”
A day earlier, Paterno had showed up for practice and adoring crowds rallied outside his modest residence into the night, chanting his name.
But Paterno, whose football program bore the motto “Success with Honor,” could not withstand the backlash from a scandal that goes well beyond the everyday stories of corruption in college sports.
“If this is correct, we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such items, and we grieve for the victims and their families,” Paterno stated Sunday, following the news broke, in a prepared statement. “They are in our prayers.”
The coach defended his selection to take the news to the athletic director. Paterno mentioned it was obvious that the graduate student, since identified as McQueary, was “distraught,” but stated he was not told about the “very certain actions” in the grand jury report.
After Paterno reported the incident to Curley, Sandusky was told to remain away from the school, but critics say the coach really should have accomplished far more — attempt to identify and help the victim, for example, or alert authorities.
“Here we are again,” John Salveson, former president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, stated earlier this week. “When an institution discovers abuse of a kid, their very first reaction was to safeguard the reputation of the institution and the perpetrator.”
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