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PSU trustees ousted Paterno over lack of action
Question of the Day
They began a series of interviews this week with media outlets. Also sitting in Thursday’s interview with the AP was Lanny Davis, a prominent Washington attorney who has been retained by Erickson and the trustees as an adviser.
“It was clear that the alumni, students, faculty and general public were asking questions of the president that he was unable to answer,” Dambly said. “We determined as a group that the Board of Trustees needed to answer the questions of what we knew, when we knew it and why we made the decisions that we made.”
The trustees on Thursday cited three reasons for Paterno’s immediate removal as head coach. Besides the moral obligation to do more in conjunction with reporting the 2002 allegation and statements issued by Paterno they felt may have challenged trustees’ authority, the trustees also said there was concern that Paterno would not be able to properly represent the school if allowed to stay on as head coach the rest of the 2011 season.
On Nov. 6, as trustees began to arrive in State College in the wake of Sandusky’s arrest, some were surprised by a statement from Paterno made without consulting the university, trustee Stephanie Deviney said. At the time, Paterno’s son, lawyer Scott Paterno, had been also speaking on behalf of his father.
“When we’re in the biggest crisis of this university, we all should have been coming together, and at that point we working separately,” Deviney said.
In a statement the morning of Nov. 9 that caught the school off-guard, Paterno announced he was retiring effective the end of the year. At the time, Paterno said he was devastated by the case, and that the trustees should “not spend a single minute discussing my status” and had more important matters to address.
“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said then. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Following a two-hour meeting later that night in which Dambly said the trustees came to a consensus, vice chair John Surma had an assistant athletic director relay a message to Paterno’s home to call him. By then, a large crowd of students and media were outside Paterno’s house.
“After 61 years he deserved better,” Sue Paterno said. “He deserved better.” The she hung up.
According to Davis on Thursday, Surma never got the chance to say two more things that night: that he regretted having to tell him the decision over the phone; and that the school was going to honor his contract and retirement package as if he had retired at the end of 2011.
Spanier, too, remains a tenured faculty member and is on sabbatical. The school has said that he had resigned, but trustees Thursday said his contract as president had been terminated.
With Spanier in attendance, general counsel Cynthia Baldwin had briefed the board about the grand jury investigation into Sandusky in May. Recounting the briefing, Dambly said Thursday trustees were led to believe the investigation was related to Sandusky’s charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile, or activities in Lock Haven, a small town about 45 minutes north of State College.
Authorities have said Sandusky met his accusers through the charity.
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