Joe Paterno Fired as Penn State Head Coach - 11-09-2011: CHANGE THE WORLD !!
In a massive shakeup, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier were fired Wednesday night by the board of trustees amid the growing furor over how the school handled child sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.
The longtime coach, the winningest in major college football, was ousted at the end of day that began with his announcement to retire at end of the season, his 46th.
It was not to be.
''The university is much larger than its athletic teams,'' board vice chair John Surma said during a packed press conference.
Paterno and Spanier were informed by telephone of the unanimous decisions to remove them.
''We were unable to find a way to do that in person without causing further distraction,'' Surma said.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim coach while Rodney Erickson will be the interim school president.
''The Penn State board of trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing,'' Surma said.
''The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community. But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place.''
Asked what Paterno did wrong, Surma said: ''I can't characterize that. We thought because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, it was necessary to make changes.''
Reached at his home by FOXSports.com's Bill Reiter, Paterno said: "I'm trying to figure out my reaction,'' Paterno said. "We'll see what's going to happen, OK?''
He then told the crowd of supporters who had assembled outside his home how much he loved them.
"Right now, I'm not the coach. And after 61 years, I have to get used to that.''
He shook hands with many of the students, some of whom were crying. His wife, Sue, was teary-eyed as she blew kisses to about 100 students on the lawn. ''You're all so sweet. And I guess we have to go beat Nebraska without being there. We love you all. Go Penn State,'' she said.
Other students were upset. A large crowd descended on the administration building, shouting ''We want Joe back!'' then headed to Beaver Stadium. Penn State supporters flipped over a media van as riot police were deployed to control a crowd of thousands that gathered to protest the firing.
Paterno later released the following statement:
''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 of 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 be forever in your debt.''
The day was always coming.
The old coach was 84, and each new season brought questions whether it would be his last. No one, though, expected it to happen quite like this.
Earlier in the day, a tearful Paterno, who won more games than any coach in major college football history, stood in an auditorium in the Penn State complex and told disbelieving players that he was retiring at the end of the season.
Not because he was too old or couldn't win anymore, but because of a child sex abuse scandal involving a longtime assistant coach and onetime heir-apparent.
''Success With Honor'' was ending in disgrace, and the tears flowed from behind the thick eyeglasses.
''In all the clips I've seen of him, I've never seen him break down and cry,'' quarterback Paul Jones said. ''And he was crying the whole time today.''
Cornerback Stephon Morris said some players also were nearly in tears themselves.
''I still can't believe it. I've never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life,'' Morris said.
''He spent his whole life here, and he dedicated everything to Penn State,'' safety Nic Sukay added. ''You could really feel that.''
Asked what was the main message of Paterno's talk, Morris said: ''Beat Nebraska.''
In Washington, the US Department of Education said Wednesday it has launched an investigation into whether Penn State failed to report incidents of sexual abuse on campus, as required by federal law.
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