At least one member of Penn State’s Board of Trustees has had second thoughts about how the board handled the decision to remove Joe Paterno as head coach at Penn State in November 2011. Al Clemens, who will be replaced on the board as a governor-appointed representative, issued a statement Friday explaining his regrets about the way Paterno was handled after the shocking revelations of the Jerry Sandusky scandal were revealed.
Paterno was ousted from his position of head coach of the football program on November 9, 2011. The decision was made swiftly by the board of trustees at Penn State, perhaps feeling the pressure to make a decision to take action against those tied to the Sandusky scandal in some capacity. Graham Spanier was also removed from his position as president of the university.
“On November 9, 2011, I and my fellow Trustees, voted to fire Joe Paterno in a hastily called meeting,” Clemens said in his statement on Friday. “We had little advance notice or opportunity to discuss and consider the complex issues we faced. After 61 years of exemplary service, Coach Paterno was given no chance to respond. That was a mistake. I will always regret that my name is attached to that rush to injustice.”
Paterno was fired with a simple phone call after being handed an envelope with a phone number to call was handed to him at his home.
In the heat of the moment, there was great media and national pressure for the school to make a statement by forcing Paterno out. Pterno had reportedly not done enough in responding to acts of sexual abuse being committed by his former assistant coach, Sandusky, on Penn State property. Paterno has said publicly he would step down at the end of the season hours before the board brought an end to his reign as head coach.
“We thought that because of the difficulties that engulfed our university, and they are grave, that it is necessary to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction,” said John Surma Jr., the vice chairman of the board, said at the time.