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Update: Paterno family responds to Penn State’s ‘failure of leadership’ report

APTOPIX Penn State Paterno Football AP

UPDATED 3:33 p.m. ET: The family of Joe Paterno has released a statement in response to Penn State’s Board of Trustees issuing a report this morning on the firing of Paterno.

Here it is, in its entirety:

“The Paterno family is surprised and saddened that the Board of Trustees believes it is necessary and appropriate to explain — for the fourth or fifth time — why they fired Joe Paterno so suddenly and unjustifiably on Nov 9, 2011.

“The latest statement is yet another attempt by the Board to deflect criticism of their leadership by trying to focus the blame on Joe Paterno. This is not fair to Joe’s legacy; it is not consistent with the facts; and it does not serve the best interests of the university. The board’s latest statement reaffirms that they did not conduct a thorough investigation of their own and engaged in a rush to judgment.

“At various times, university officials have said that they fired Joe Paterno. At other times they have said they didn’t fire him. They have simultaneously accused him of moral and leadership failures, and praised him for the high standards he set for the university.

“The tough questions that have yet to be addressed relate not to Joe Paterno, but to the board. Two months ago, as Joe Paterno was dying, the board conducted a series of media interviews condemning him for ‘moral’ failures. Now they are trying a different tack and accusing him of ‘leadership’ failures. The question we would ask is simply this, when will the board step up and acknowledge that the ultimate responsibility for this crisis is theirs? Everyone who cares about Penn State is longing for strong, courageous, honest leadership. Today’s statement is anything but that.”


Nearly four months after firing Joe Paterno, and two months after his death, Penn State has released a report on the events and reasons surrounding the coaching legend’s dismissal.

According to the report issued by the school’s board of trustees, Paterno was fired Nov. 9 for what the school deemed “a failure of leadership“.  The report alleges Paterno failed to followup on allegations a decade ago that one of his former assistants, alleged pedophile Jerry Sandusky, had sexually assaulted a boy in a locker room shower in the Lasch football building.

The report stated that “[w]hile Coach Paterno did his legal duty by reporting that information the next day… 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.”

Sandusky, who “retired” in 1999 but maintained an office in the football building, was indicted Nov. 5 on dozens related to the sexual abuse of young boys, many of whom were allegedly assaulted on the Penn State campus.  Sandusky is scheduled to go to trial on the charges May 14.

“[E]very adult has a responsibility for every child in our community, “the release quotes board member Ken Frazier as saying. “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 child.”

The board also addressed the manner in which Paterno was fired, which caused an uproar among former players, current students and alumni alike.

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.

Graham Spanier was fired as president the same day Paterno was relieved of his coaching duties, with the board’s report stating that Spanier was “removed because he failed to meet his leadership responsibilities to the Board… insufficiently informing the Board about his knowledge of the 2002 incident. … made or was involved in press announcements between Nov. 5-9 that were without authorization of the Board or contrary to its instructions.”

Athletic director Tim Curley was charged with two counts related to his grand jury testimony in the Sandusky case and is currently on a leave of absence.

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33 Responses to “Update: Paterno family responds to Penn State’s ‘failure of leadership’ report”
  1. showerswithsandusky says: Mar 12, 2012 11:24 AM

    Sounds like a legitimate reason. Still think he should’ve been fired years ago for being a worthless old coach who didn’t have a clue about the game of football. Too bad he’s dead right now. He should’ve had to answer for his facilitating of Sandusky and the PSU bath house. Creepy old man got off lucky.

  2. deadeye says: Mar 12, 2012 11:34 AM

    In other words, the BoT agreed with Paterno’s critics who stated that he should have done more than the “legal minimum”.

    I don’t have a problem with the board’s conclusion about JoePa. I have a problem with the fact that several of those BoT clowns knew about all this and are trying like crazy to cover up the fact that they knew. Rumors about Sandusky were heard by players in the early 90s. It’s impossible that those same rumors never found their way to the BoT. They are hypocrits.

  3. mgm36 says: Mar 12, 2012 12:30 PM

    over the past few years paterno was not a good football coach – that is why he needed to be fired. listening and reading what psu fans say one would belive it was paterno’s job for life. that is a sad commentary. only the pope and some federal judges have jobs for life and none of them should

  4. vegasbrewmaster says: Mar 12, 2012 12:42 PM

    I still go back to the Police that knew about this in 1998 and the District of Attorney did file charges. Your telling me the Police didn’t take it to the Scholl or BoT……Bullsh_t!!! The District of Attorney went missing in 2004 and never found???
    There are more people involved than we will ever know.

  5. gojoep says: Mar 12, 2012 12:57 PM

    If in the words of our DEAR Governor “Joe Paterno should have done more”. And now the “school” now claims there was a “failure of leadership”. Please someone tell me why EVERY SINGLE LAST PERSON from top to bottom that knew anything about all of this wasn’t fired immediately also? Hello? Two governors, PA state attorneys, the entire Penn State Board of Trustees (what hypocrisy in that name – trust), all the rest of the administration of the school and state? If those in POWER want to claim this pompous oversight of one man made to be the figure head for ALL the failures, then make it stick for every single last person who let this continue and did NOTHING. Paterno was fired while those JUST as guilty played the game of blame and hypocrisy (are you listening Governor?). The hypocrisy here is outstanding. Even the media who reported this in the past let it go and they should be a part of the blame and retribution. It is SO hypocritical for ANYONE to claim this purity while they sit as guilty of a “failure of leadership” as anyone. Hypocrisy. Penn State and the Governor need to stop gaming this issue and look in the mirror and confess their own “failure of leadership”.

  6. florida727 says: Mar 12, 2012 1:28 PM

    “However, after this Board member communicated the first message, Coach Paterno ended the call, so the second and third messages could not be delivered.”


    In other words, Paterno hung up on the guy? I used to do the same thing when I got news I didn’t want to hear… WHEN I WAS IN THIRD F’ING GRADE!

    Although I agree that the Board of Trustees HAD TO know more about this than we’re being told, they handled Paterno’s firing in a right way in my opinion. With media geeks all over Paterno’s front lawn, I wouldn’t have sent an entourage over there either, although if they had, the last of the messages, the one about his employment contract, could have been delivered.

  7. marzxyz says: Mar 12, 2012 2:11 PM

    It is indeed ironic that Joe Paterno, an iconic college football coach, was ultimately fired for a “failure of leadership.” Unfortunately, if Coach Paterno had retired at a more reasonable age, e.g., mid-70s, he would have completely avoided the sad events that have come to tarnish his legacy. Perhaps Coach Paterno’s greatest failing (few in number as compared with his many attributes) was simply not knowing when to step down.

  8. lasseter1113 says: Mar 12, 2012 2:24 PM


    Lmao, the governor is listening and he is the one that gave you the one thumbs down you got on your comment!!! 8~)

  9. joepa400 says: Mar 12, 2012 2:30 PM

    Our coward of a Governor and the Trusties can hide behind the Legend because thats the kind of Great man he was. But remember this Corbett, 4 years till election time, seams like a long time away, but trust me I will not forget along side of many many other PSU faithful. I guarantee 2 votes that won’t come your way this time. Thats a 4 vote swing from last election. Coward!!

  10. onceuponatimeinsports says: Mar 12, 2012 2:34 PM

    This is exactly what most of us Paterno critics have been saying from the outset, nothing more…nothing less.

    He knew what Sandusky was doing in his program’s locker room (and don’t try to tell me it wasn’t “his” program, it certainly was in every way that counted) and he merely passed it up to another PSU administrator and washed his hands of it. Chiefly because he knew his further involvement would bring more attention to the issue and he didn’t want his precious football team smeared with sexual abuse allegation against a close friend and ex co-worker.

    If that’s not “failure of leadership” I don’t know what is. I would further add that it represents a failure as a human being, a father and mentor to boys of all ages who came thru his program. When innocent young boys needed him most he turned the other way and pretended he didn’t understand what was going on.

    And all the JoePa apologists are just sticking their heads in the sand if they believe differently…

  11. latrobe21 says: Mar 12, 2012 3:21 PM

    Dear BofT,

    Just STFU ! You make bigger assholes of yourselves everytime you try to pretend you were all oblivious to this, what privaleges YOU gave Sandusky to PSU facilities, not following up with the alleged victim(s) when the DA didn’t believe there was enough evidence, etc. Just STFU and resign – all of you. And Joyner, too. Alumns want to get 100% behind O’Brien, but you guys are stinking up the place. Get the hell out of State College. How much are you paying Freeh to come up with a report favorable to the BofT?

  12. bozosforall says: Mar 12, 2012 3:34 PM

    Every one of the Board of Trustees members should resign in shame for not doing more as well. To do any less only shows their cowardice and true hypocrisy.

  13. latrobe21 says: Mar 12, 2012 3:40 PM

    Nicely stated, Paterno family. God Bless JoePa.

  14. cubano76 says: Mar 12, 2012 4:14 PM

    Damn! It took the entire family to write that? Maybe they should spend a little more time in that library the old man built. Just sayin….

  15. emperorzero says: Mar 12, 2012 4:34 PM

    It was a “failure of leadership” on Paterno’s part, but I would have gone further and replaced the BoT as well because as noted above – no way they didn’t hear the whispers and rumors as well.

  16. Deb says: Mar 12, 2012 4:37 PM

    I agreed with the decision to terminate Coach Paterno … but what purpose is served by releasing yet another statement on that now? The termination was several months ago, the man is dead and can’t speak up for himself. I’m more interested in why Sandusky was spotted in the President’s box at a basketball game after Paterno was terminated and after his arrest.

    Coach Paterno may have failed in his leadership responsibilities, but he certainly wasn’t the only person at the institution to have done so. It seems his untimely death makes him the perfect fall guy and those above him on the ladder are trying to use him to get away unscathed.

  17. mrslay1 says: Mar 12, 2012 4:39 PM

    Penn state was never a favorite team but was always respected because of one thing and one thing only. Joe PA!! They will never have respect again as long as anyone on the board or any other administration flunky is there.

  18. mgmac says: Mar 12, 2012 4:43 PM

    the entire paterno family sounds like a bunch of entitled welfare grabbers. the job was NOT his for life – they may have thought it was but it was not. they are scum and the school will eventually do well without they sucker at the helm of the football team

  19. showerswithsandusky says: Mar 12, 2012 6:07 PM

    Well said mgmac. 2 thumbs up!

  20. savethisname says: Mar 12, 2012 6:17 PM

    “mgmac” you are pathetic along with the rest of the Paterno haters. Throwing all your hatred at Joe Paterno and his family doesn’t even begin to address this horrible scandal. There is a much bigger tragedy here which involves the cover-up that evolved. From the police to the BoT to many of the university personnel we will never know just how many people were involved, that in itself is horrifying. It would be nice to see the university stop deflecting it’s own responsibility in this by continuing to condemn Paterno even after his death. What a cowardly tactic, as a Penn State alumni it’s getting harder to have any respect for the university, the BoT should have all been terminated as well.

  21. mgmac says: Mar 12, 2012 6:22 PM

    I do not hate joe paterno. they all were culpable for the cover-up. joe was the most powerful guy at psu and everyone admits that. he had the power to stop the abuse of children and did NOT. joe was an enabler. you are pathetic for defensing the child abuser cover-upper!!!

  22. jimtherealist says: Mar 12, 2012 6:31 PM

    Joe Paterno was fired because of the media’s frenzy to connect him with Sandusky. That simple. Let’s face it, Jerry Sandusky’s sins weren’t going to grab big headlines; any columnist who called for his “scalp” would get a yawn.

    But Joe Paterno. There’s a name to grab headlines! There were stories without the slightest link to Paterno, but his picture was with the article. Character assassination broke Joe’s spirit. But, hey, some columnist got great numbers by saying what Joe should have done.

  23. Kave Krew says: Mar 12, 2012 6:39 PM

    This just in……the families of the victims are still pissed Joe Pa turned away.

    Here’s my take – if the starting QB had academic or legal issues and Joe Pa turned it over the the proper chain of command, i would bet my life that Joe Pa would follow up quickly and frequently to get the player back on the field. Why weren’t these children as lucky as the player to get Joe’s attention??

    So all you Joe Pa defenders can bark away, but if it was a child in your life getting rammed by the perv in the shower and you thought Joe Pa could’ve stopped it long before it was your child’s turn you’d be screaming for his head.

  24. brenenostler says: Mar 12, 2012 6:42 PM

    What the family said makes sense. Penn State is acting like Joe Paterno is the only one that could have done anything.

  25. hardjudge says: Mar 12, 2012 6:49 PM

    The board of trustees should resign. It is obvious they did not exercise institutional control. It would be very interesting to know what they knew and when!

  26. Kave Krew says: Mar 12, 2012 7:48 PM

    Penn State University – where it’s always someone else’s job to stop a pediphile……

  27. savethisname says: Mar 12, 2012 7:51 PM

    mgmac: as written by you:
    “the entire paterno family sounds like a bunch of entitled welfare grabbers. the job was NOT his for life – they may have thought it was but it was not. they are scum and the school will eventually do well without they sucker at the helm of the football team”

    Sorry but that sounds a little hateful to me! At least back up what you post instead of contradicting your ridiculous claims.

  28. mdpickles says: Mar 12, 2012 7:59 PM

    This type of behavior by the board just cost PSU future tuition money.

  29. vegasrobert says: Mar 12, 2012 8:02 PM

    i commend them for the statement. it is spot on right. hate me for being right. i dont’ care!

  30. vegasrobert says: Mar 12, 2012 8:04 PM

    you folks who say joe was an enable and he failed to act are ignoring the facts and killing a good man’s legacy with your ignorance.

    he DID act. he was the ONLY one who did. give him credit for the facts. the dude who SAW it did not even go to authorities. JOE DID!!!

  31. savethisname says: Mar 13, 2012 12:11 PM

    have no idea what you do for a living nor do I care
    but I hope at some point in your life or thereafter someone refers to you as worthless and old. Talk to the many players who came forward and spoke about how Joe Paterno made such a positive impact in their lives, that includes recent players. There are so many people who devalue people in their senior years instead of realizing the wealth of knowledge and experience they contribute to our society. You seem to be the only loser who agreed with mgmacs comments, sadly it makes sense.

  32. Kave Krew says: Mar 13, 2012 8:11 PM

    I think Joe was a great man who made an extraordinary positive difference in this world.

    Joe also made a choice with Jerry Sandusky – he chose the program over the safety of children.

    It’s too bad that such a great life has this stain on it, but Joe spilled it on himself. Others are culpable yes, but you don’t wear the king’s crown only during good times and Joe was the king of PSU – i don’t see any statues of the Board of Trustees anywhere on campus.

  33. blueinok says: Mar 14, 2012 5:37 PM

    And Curley gets to keep his job because? Just how long is his leave of absence going to be?

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