Speaking extensively for the first time since the scandal at his state’s largest university broke, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett told reporters Thursday that he supported Penn State’s firing of head coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier late Wednesday night.
“Their actions caused me to not have confidence in their ability to continue to lead,” Corbett said.
Prior to taking office in January, Corbett was the state’s attorney general. His office opened the investigation into Jerry Sandusky that resulted in the former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator being indicted by a grand jury on 40 counts of sexual abuse of minors.
“Certainly every Pennsylvanian who has any knowledge of this case, who has read the grand jury report, feels a sense of regret and a sorrow to also see careers end,” Corbett said. “But, we must keep in mind that when it comes to the safety of children, there can be no margin of error, no hesitation to act.”
Corbett also addressed the riots that took place on campus following Paterno’s firing.
Thousands of students gathered downtown late last night and torn down lamp posts, signs and flipped a television news van. Because of the scenes he witnessed on TV, a Nebraska regent expressed concern today for the safety of the Cornhuskers football program Saturday; Penn State plays Nebraska in the Nittany Lions’ home finale.
Corbett called for calm among the student body in the hopes that what happened last night won’t be repeated Saturday.
“I believe in your right of assembly and your right to express your opinions,” Corbett said. “I do not believe, nor does anyone believe, in your right to violence.”