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Why Penn State Fired Joe Paterno

Being a Penn State (Altoona) graduate, i was shocked just like everyone else when the Sandusky Scandal hit Happy Valley -- as for the fallout, we all know about that. The following is a letter received by all Penn State alumni/ faculty/ students, printed in its entirety, detailing exactly why Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier were relieved of their duties:

The following report has been posted to the Penn State Openness website at

Report of the Board of Trustees concerning Nov. 9 decisions

The removal of Graham Spanier as Penn State president and Joe Paterno as
football coach

The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees has been asked by members
of the Penn State community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, to
state clearly its reasons for the difficult decisions that were made
unanimously on the evening of Nov. 9, 2011 -- to remove Graham Spanier as
president of the University and Joe Paterno as head football coach for the
remaining three games of the 2011 season. Our decisions were guided by our
obligation as Trustees, always, to put the interests of the University first.

We share the grief of the entire Penn State family at the passing of Coach
Paterno. We also continue to respect and appreciate Dr. Spanier's and Coach
Paterno's lasting contributions to Penn State. We especially honor the great
legacy of Coach Paterno in making his football program a model for his
emphasis on academic as well as athletic performance and for his generous
support of Penn State through the years.

We offer this report guided by one overriding commitment going forward -- to
remember the children who may have been victims of sexual abuse on or near the
University Park campus over the last 10 or more years and to support their
healing process as best we can.

President Graham Spanier

We determined on Nov. 9 that Dr. Spanier should be removed because he failed
to meet his leadership responsibilities to the Board and took insufficient
action after learning of a 2002 incident involving former assistant coach
Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a Penn State facility. This failure of
leadership included insufficiently informing the Board about his knowledge of
the 2002 incident. He also made or was involved in press announcements between
Nov. 5-9 that were without authorization of the Board or contrary to its

On Nov. 9, Dr. Spanier asked the Board for a vote of confidence. Since for the
reasons cited above we were unable to provide it, we voted that evening
unanimously to remove him as president and informed him of that decision. Dr.
Spanier remains a tenured professor at Penn State.

Coach Joe Paterno

Also on Nov. 9, the Board unanimously made the decision to remove Coach
Paterno for the last three games of the season. He had announced earlier that
day that he would be retiring at the end of the season.

Our most important reason - by far - for this difficult decision flowed from
what we learned on Nov. 5, for the first time, from a "presentment" (report)
by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury about Coach Paterno's early 2011 sworn

The report stated that a Penn State graduate assistant had gone to Coach
Paterno's home on Saturday morning, March 2, 2002. The report quoted Coach
Paterno as testifying to the Grand Jury that the graduate assistant told him
that he had seen Jerry Sandusky, the coach's former assistant coach up to
1999, "in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual
nature to a young boy."

While Coach Paterno did his legal duty by reporting that information the next
day, Sunday, March 3, to his immediate superior, the then Penn State Athletic
Director Tim Curley, the Board reasonably inferred that he did not call
police. We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not
to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.

The Board spent hours on conference calls between Saturday, Nov. 5, and
Tuesday, Nov. 8, discussing appropriate action and our fiduciary
responsibility as the Trustees. On Wednesday evening, Nov. 9, we met in person
in State College. At about 9 pm, we unanimously made the difficult decision
that Coach Paterno's failure of leadership required his removal as football

We are sorry for the unfortunate way we had to deliver the news on the
telephone about an hour later to Coach Paterno. However, we saw no better
alternative. Because Coach Paterno's home was surrounded by media
representatives, photographers and others, we did not believe there was a
dignified, private and secure way to send Board representatives to meet with
him there. Nor did we believe it would be wise to wait until the next morning,
since we believed it was probable that Coach Paterno would hear the news
beforehand from other sources, which would be inappropriate.

Thus, we sent a representative of the Athletic Department to ask Coach Paterno
to call us. When the coach called, the Board member who received the call
planned to tell him that (1) the Board had decided unanimously to remove him
as coach; (2) the Board regretted having to deliver the message over the
telephone; and (3) his employment contract would continue, including all
financial benefits and his continued status as a tenured faculty member.
However, after this Board member communicated the first message, Coach Paterno
ended the call, so the second and third messages could not be delivered.

Many alumni, faculty, staff and students are inquiring about how we plan to
honor Coach Paterno's many contributions to the University. It has always been
the Board's intention to fulfill his employment contract and to name him head
coach emeritus. Other options also are under consideration, but the Board
feels it would be premature to make any final decision at least until the
final report of the independent counsel Judge Louis Freeh is publicly issued
in conjunction with the Special Investigations Task Force.

Remembering the Children

We remain committed to remembering the children who were allegedly assaulted
over the last 10 or more years, many on Penn State's University Park campus,
and whose lives may well be scarred for years to come. The University has
offered and will provide counseling and related health care services. We have
contributed financially to organizations dedicated to protecting victims of
sexual assault and child abuse.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, joined by the
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource
Center, have agreed to join with the University to co-sponsor a national forum
at Penn State on child sexual abuse. We plan to invite representatives from
our 24 campuses, as well as from other Pennsylvania colleges and universities.
We hope to turn this tragedy into an important teaching moment. We hope such a
forum would bring together the nation's experts to inform all on recognizing
early signs of child sexual abuse, the long-term effects on child sexual
assault victims, and the legal and ethical responsibility to report even
suspicions of such abuse.

As one member of the Board of Trustees, Ken Frazier, put it so well:

".... [E]very adult has a responsibility for every child in our community. And
...we have a responsibility not to do the minimum, the legal requirement. We
have a responsibility for ensuring that we can make every effort that's within
our power not only to prevent further harm to that one child, but to every

That is our commitment to the children...and to the core values that have
always made Penn State a great university.

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