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Joe Paterno fired after 46 years as Penn State football coach

Courtesy of MCT

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The Penn State Board of Trustees announced Wednesday that Joe Paterno has been dismissed as head coach of the football team. Board member John P. Surma also announced that university President Graham Spanier resigned Wednesday.

Surma also announced that Tom Bradley, previously the PSU football team’s defensive coordinator, will serve as interim head coach for the Nittany Lions.

“Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately,” Surma said. “It was necessary to make a change. I would hope that everyone that cares about Penn State — our 95,000 students, our hundreds of thousands of alumni, the thousands of degrees that are awarded each year, our outreach for agriculture in every county of the commonwealth — I would hope that everyone would agree that what we’re doing … is best in the long-term interest of the university, which is much larger than athletic programs.”

Surma said that Paterno was informed of his dismissal on the phone and said he would not characterize Paterno’s reaction.

Earlier Wednesday, Paterno announced his plans to retire after finishing the Nittany Lions’ 2011 season.

In a statement released by Paterno, the former coach said, “This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university.”

The changes come after Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly charged former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky with 40 counts of child abuse Friday. Former university president for finance and business Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley were also charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse.

Curley is currently on administrative leave at PSU. Curley, Schultz and Sandusky’s cases are all on-going, according to a press release from Kelly’s office.

Sandusky met the children he allegedly abused through a program which he founded called The Second Mile, according to the release from Kelly’s office, which also said:

“Some of those assaults allegedly occurred while Sandusky was a coach at Penn State while others happened on the Penn State campus and … in the locker room of the Penn State football team at Lasch Hall, to which Sandusky apparently had unrestricted access to as part of his retirement agreement with Penn State. It was the activity in those football locker rooms, first reported by a victim in 1998 and again by a witness in 2002, that are particularly disturbing.”

The release also included that a graduate assistant witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child in 2002 and reported the incident to university officials. It goes on to say Paterno also “heard about the sexual assault of that young boy in the football locker room and reported that incident to the top administrators at the university.”

The 84-year-old Paterno’s last-ever win as PSU coach came Saturday when he guided the Nittany Lions to a 10-7 win against Illinois. The win was the 409th of Paterno’s career, making him the all-time wins leader among NCAA Division I coaches. Paterno led the Nittany Lions to national championships in 1982 and 1986 and finishes his career with a 409-136-3 record.

The late, former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was the first Buckeyes coach to face Paterno. The two coaches first met in 1975 at Ohio Stadium in 1975. Hayes led OSU to a 17-9 win in the coaches’ first meeting.

First-year OSU coach Luke Fickell will be the first Buckeye coach to face the Nittany Lions in the post-Paterno era when OSU hosts PSU on Nov. 19.

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