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“I think most people didn’t really see the direct relationship to the university; there was no sense that I’m aware of that anyone at Penn State was targeted as part of that,” he said. “Time passed. I suppose the assumption was there wasn’t anything there.”

The 67-year-old Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence and remains out on $250,000 bail while awaiting trial. A charity he founded called The Second Mile, through which he met many of his alleged victims, said Friday it was selling a 60-acre property where it had been building an educational center.

Two Penn State administrators are facing charges they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky and failed to properly report suspected child abuse. Gary Schultz, a former vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, have denied the allegations and await trial.

Paterno in early 2002 passed along a report of alleged sex abuse by Sandusky to his bosses but did not notify police. Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, but his lack of further action spurred the calls for his firing.

In terms of public relations, Penn State has continuously been playing catch-up, said Jeremy Robinson-Leon, a principal for the New York-based crisis management firm, Group Gordon.

The school, he said, has two constituencies: the public at large, which is critical to maintaining Penn State’s national brand, and the community of students, alumni and other supporters, who are important from a community-building and fundraising perspective.

“In order to get past the problem, you have to figure out who you’re talking to, who your constituencies are, and so I don’t think the board has figured it out,” Robinson-Leon said.

Erickson said he had been in contact with Larry Foster, an alumnus who directed Johnson & Johnson’s public relations response to the Tylenol crises in 1982 and 1986.

The top two leaders of the trustees released a statement Thursday evening responding to alumni questions. Paterno, they said, was removed in November instead of being allowed to retire after the season because of “extraordinary circumstances.”

“The details of his retirement are being worked out and will be made public when they are finalized,” said the statement from Chairman Steve Garban and Vice Chairman John Surma. “Generally speaking, the University intends to honor the terms of his employment contract and is treating him financially as if he had retired at the end of the 2011 football season.”

Robinson-Leon said it appears to be important from the Penn State community’s perspective that the trustees take full responsibility for their decisions.

“They were trying to move toward owning that decision, but you can’t do it halfway,” he said. “At some point, the leadership of the board has to get out there and face the critics.”


AP Writer Genaro C. Armas in State College, Pa., contributed to this report.