Penn State Trustees Fire Joe Paterno And University President

The Board Of Trustees of Pennsylvania State University announced late tonight that Joe Paterno and the President of the University have been fired in the wake of a widening child sex abuse scandal:

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was fired late Wednesday night as the result of a growing child-sex scandal that has engulfed the program. The move is effective immediately meaning he will never coach for the school again. President Graham Spanier was also fired.

Earlier in the day, Paterno, the winningest coach in FBS history, had announced that he would retire at season’s end, allowing him to coach the Nittany Lions’ final home game this Saturday against Nebraska. After an afternoon of calls for the coach’s immediate removal, the board called the emergency meeting.

It caps a fifth day since the revelation of a grand jury investigation that led to 40 charges relating to alleged sexual abuse of children, some of it allegedly occurring within Penn State football facilities, by longtime and former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky.

According to the grand jury report, Paterno was first notified of the alleged abuse in 2002 by then-graduate assistant and current assistant coach Mike McQueary, who reported seeing Sandusky in the Penn State showers with a 10-year-old boy. Paterno notified the athletic director, Tim Curley, and a vice president, Gary Schultz. Both Curley and Schultz have been charged for their failures to report the information to authorities. Both men also stepped down from the school on Sunday.

It’s a sad end to an illustrious career. The coach holding the record for the most wins in the history of college football has been fired in disgrace because he looked the other way when informed of a horrible,  horrible crime. There really aren’t any winners here.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Don’t forget McQueary and Curley (who’s technically only on leave at this point). They need to be fired too.

  2. Oh, and at least two of the janitors.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I agree. Child rape is going on and these worthless assholes don’t take any action? What the hell is the matter with these people? They are the moral equals of Germans who smelled the smoke coming out of Dachau and pretended not to know what it meant. Worthless, cowardly, amoral scum.

  4. Trumwill says:

    Wow. It sounds like rioting at Penn State… over Paterno being fired.

    I suspect that, at some point down the road, they will not be proud of this.

  5. Steve V says:

    It’s a start for PSU. They need to scrap their entire football program, release their players, forfeit the rest of their season and raze then rebuild their facilities. If they act quickly, they could start from scratch and possibly field a team next year.

  6. @michael reynolds:

    I agree.

    I’m note sure we do. I think the BoT did the right thing, but this is a huge tragedy on many levels and it’s been causing me a ton of pain all week. You seems to be almost enjoying it. So even if we reached the same conclusions, I don’t think the whys and wherefores are anything alike.

  7. OldSouth says:

    Truly a sad ending for an otherwise storied career.

    However, after seeing (on several occasions) first-hand the damage done to the lives of those who are sexually exploited as children, I have to say I would have voted for the firings as well. It isn’t just the damage to that child–which is tragic–it is also the collateral damage and clean-up in the lives around that child when he/she hits adulthood. I could go on, but won’t…time and decency don’t allow.

    There have been kids I have encountered where every instinct in me roars ‘This kid is being abused!’, and yet without a shred of proof, not much can be done. In this case, it wasn’t just someone’s suspicions, it was behavior witnessed and reported by a credible person. This just can’t be overlooked, this is an evil situation.

    The board came to the correct decision.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    No, I’m not enjoying it.

    I’ve got two kids. I don’t like thinking that rest of the world can be this callous and this indifferent to their fate. I’d like to think if one of my kids was being raped and another adult saw that happen, they would step in.

    And without getting into TMI this is personal to me.

    So I don’t feel the need to disguise my outrage at people like this.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    With Paterno, with the Bishops, with the Pope, I can’t get away from one central question: what kind of person covers this up? I’m not talking about in general, i.e. they are bad people, I’m wondering about the specifics, i.e. are they molesters or potential molesters themselves. And I can’t get any other answer other than: probably. Think about it: Paterno is told that a large grown man has a ten year old boy (think about how little a ten year old is) up against a wall in a public shower and is anally raping him so hard that the noise drew someone from the next room. And Paterno did nothing until the next day and then only did the legal minimum. If he had heard that the same guy was in the locker room punching a ten year old kid in the face, or kicking a dog to death, I have no doubt Paterno would have come running and laid into the guy. So, what was different in this case? Can it be that Paterno (the Bishops, the Pope) really just don’t see anything wrong in this behavior? Merely think it unwise?

  10. Franklin says:

    Maybe I haven’t read enough about the situation here – do we know exactly what was told to JoePa by the assistant? Do we know exactly what the university told JoePa?

    Please don’t get all judgmental on me, I’m just asking questions. Up here at the University of Michigan the campus police are deputized. If they launched an investigation and told me that everything was okay, I might believe them, partly depending on what else I actually knew for sure. I don’t know what the situation is with PSU’s campus security (if that’s who did the investigation).

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Franklin, Joe wasn’t denying that he was told something bad was going on, although he isn’t too specific on what it was. Even assuming that this McQueary guy witnessed the assault but only told Joe that “something bad” was happening to a 10 year old in the shower with a coach, what the heck does it mean that Joe didn’t do anything about it until the next day? It just doesn’t wash. Nevermind the fact that it happened again yet Joe continued to hang out with the guy and give him free run of the facilities. What the heck is that about?

  12. sam says:


    Maybe I haven’t read enough about the situation here – do we know exactly what was told to JoePa by the assistant? Do we know exactly what the university told JoePa?

    You can download a pdf of the the grand jury report here.

  13. Franklin says:

    Again, do we know exactly what was said? There’s a big difference between saying “something bad was happening to a 10-year-old” vs. “I think I saw something inappropriate” which is later investigated and reported to Joe as it being checked out.

    And I don’t see any reference to Paterno in that grand jury report. I should probably search around for better info before continuing to play devil’s advocate …

  14. Franklin says:

    BTW, MarkedMan, to answer your question about the Pope and everybody else possibly including Paterno, it’s likely that they were simply in denial. I mean, even if you wanted to, you probably can’t imagine yourself raping a little boy – it can be hard to believe anybody else would want to. A simple psychological barrier.

  15. Franklin says:

    OK, I found Paterno in the report … somehow had skipped over it. Yeah, it certainly sounds like he knew enough to not let it slide so easily.

  16. Dexter says:

    Some questions: How much did Coach know? How much should he have known? These questions need to be cleared up with evidence. In many large organizations there is the tendency to keep the leadership and person at the top uninformed and in the dark about any problems. Is this what happened here?
    At any rate, it was still shabby treatment of Coach to fire him in the middle of the night by phone. The “board” needs to be fired too.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Franklin: Franklin, the Pope is bfar far beyond denial. I can’t read the evidence in any other than he was complicit. When he was Bishop in Berlin he was at a meeting where the actions of a serial pedophile priest under his jurisdiction was discussed and then signed the document overriding the recommendations of the church investigators, allowing the priest to go on to another parish without any warning where he raped many more boys. His excuse? He wasn’t paying attention at that meeting because he had more important things on his mind and the document was just one of many that he signed that day and he didn’t read it. Like Paterno, the actions that he admits to are enough to condemn him.

  18. Barry says:

    @Dexter: “At any rate, it was still shabby treatment of Coach to fire him in the middle of the night by phone. The “board” needs to be fired too. ”

    No, it was quite reasonable. It’s extremely unlikely that he didn’t know what was going on, and that nothing was being done about it. IMHO, the Board fired him after it was clear that he wouldn’t resign, and would stay for the rest of the season.

  19. KarenHill says:

    I don’t believe things are accidental, how many times is a bastard actually caught in the act of his gross pervesions, for that intern-whatever to happen into that shower room and witness what was going on and no one act on it is A-P-P-A-L-L-I-N-G. I am bewildered as to why that guy didn’t stop what was going on and get that child to safety, he let the coach finish his business with the little guy.(at least from what I read) oh sweet Jesus tarry not, it’s time to send these freaks to hell forever…
    I’m so proud of Penn for firing both the coach and the president, he wants to offer his unconditional support, that means if they show a video with sound of the wrong he’s still supporting the guy. I offer NOONE my unconditional support NOONE alive today ok except Jesus Christ, but anyway then Paterno tried to make a undercover sneak move by trying to resign, FIRED whenever I got fired there was no severance pay either, so no 50 million dollar severance packages, save that for the victims fund.ok my chickens burning