- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - Coach Joe Paterno is fighting for his job amid “eroding” support from Penn State’s board of trustees and a widening sex-abuse scandal and possible cover-up centered on former assistant and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno’s regularly scheduled news conference was abruptly canceled Tuesday. A university spokesman cited “ongoing legal circumstances,” a reference to charges announced over the weekend that Sandusky molested eight young boys between 1994 and 2009, and that two PSU administrators who have since stepped aside failed to notify authorities of a 2002 incident reported by an eyewitness.

Late Tuesday night, the board said it would appoint a special committee to conduct an investigation into the “circumstances” that resulted in the indictments of Sandusky, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. The committee will be appointed Friday at the board’s regular meeting, which Gov. Tom Corbett said he plans to attend, and will examine “what failures occurred and who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure” similar mistakes aren’t made in the future.

The board also promised those responsible would be held “fully accountable.”

“We are committed to restoring public trust in the university,” the board statement concluded.

At least a thousand students descended on the administration building about 11 p.m., EDT, chanting “Joe Paterno!” over and over, along with Penn State cheers. Many held up their smartphones to take photos or simply light up the night. A few young men climbed flag poles.

About 10 police officers stood on the steps of the building, guarding it.

Paterno’s son, Scott, said his father was disappointed over the decision by PSU President Graham Spanier to cancel the news conference. Addressing reporters outside his parents’ house, Scott said Joe was prepared to answer questions about Sandusky _ who maintains he is innocent _ and further that his father plans to coach not only Saturday’s game against Nebraska, but for the long haul.

Hundreds of fans staged a raucous rally outside Paterno’s home. He appeared briefly, along with some family members, and thanked the crowd for coming.

“It’s hard for me to say how much this means,” the 84-year-old coach said. “I’ve lived for this place. I’ve lived for people like you guys and girls.”

Asked if he was still the coach, Paterno didn’t answer but a young woman who stood with her arm around him replied: “Now is not the time.”

As he returned to his house, Paterno stopped and pumped his fists above his head, yelling, “We are …”

Penn State!” the crowd replied.

“We’re always going to be Penn State,” Paterno said. “I’m proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you. Beat Nebraska.”

At an afternoon practice, managers hastily put plywood boards over an exposed fence to block photographers’ view of the field.

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