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.”
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.”