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Trustees typically get briefed on legal matters. The case was not presented in a way “as anything we should really be concerned about,” Myers said. Trustees said they learned the details with the rest of the public on Nov. 5: through newspaper, broadcast or online accounts.

The next day Spanier offered more details. He issued a statement calling the allegations troubling and adding that athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz had his unconditional support.

Schultz and Curley are awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to charges of perjury and failing to report the 2002 allegation to authorities. Curley is on administrative leave, while Schultz, whose department oversaw campus police, returned to retirement.

By Nov. 7, Spanier’s support on the board had eroded, Myers said.

“It was very emotional. How could this have happened,” Myers said in recounting the deliberations and initial reaction to the allegations. “This is the antithesis of what the university stood for.”

Efforts Thursday by the AP to reach Spanier were not successful.

Paterno is battling lung cancer. His attorney, Sollers, issued a statement blasting the trustees.

“The shameless criticism of Joe Paterno over the last 24 hours is insensitive, self-serving and unsupported by the facts,” he said. “Placing wholesale blame on Joe Paterno for the break down in Penn State’s investigative processes is a misguided attempt to distract the media and the public from scrutinizing the conduct of everyone involved. It is also irresponsible to claim that Joe Paterno has been afforded due process.”

In a separate statement, the group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship said the board’s comments have “done nothing but raise additional questions.” The group started in mid-November, growing out of what a spokeswoman said was a common frustration among members over a lack of due process at the school.

“We can conclude, that consequently, their hasty and panicked damage control efforts in the first days of November, and the uncomfortable position they found themselves in, being caught flat-footed, instead of in a proactive leadership position, led to the unjust firing of Joe Paterno, without so much as a conversation, let alone complete due process,” the group’s statement said.

Other critical alumni have called for wholesale changes in the board’s makeup, and more transparency into how the board operates.

Dambly said he hoped critics would look at the trustees’ recent comments objectively “and that will I think to 90 percent to 99 percent of the world answer a lot of those questions.”

The board is also expected to address the topic at the meeting Friday.