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Outgoing Penn State trustee regrets how Joe Paterno was fired

Joe Paterno and his wife Sue greet supporters outside their home in State College in still image taken from video Reuters

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.

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55 Responses to “Outgoing Penn State trustee regrets how Joe Paterno was fired”
  1. djshnooks says: Mar 8, 2014 2:15 PM

    Good they should, they killed the guy.

  2. latrobe21 says: Mar 8, 2014 2:15 PM

    I don’t want any apologies, now, from any of these gutless trustees. Still a bunch more to get rid of, and I still want the whole truth to be revealed.

  3. davidpsu says: Mar 8, 2014 2:18 PM

    Why did this take so long?

  4. auburntigers34 says: Mar 8, 2014 2:36 PM

    He’s ashamed of firing someone that knowingly covered for a pedophile….leading to who knows how many more assaults?

    The Paterno worship at PSU is insane(and disgusting).

  5. mauldawg says: Mar 8, 2014 2:41 PM

    auburntigers34, You are so correct. JP needed to be fired on the spot. You can never get me to believe he did not know what was going on. He fired himself.

  6. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 2:48 PM

    I love the talk about how they killed him. Cancer killed him. And if he was alive today he’d be on trial just like all the other scumbags that helped cover up Sandusky’s crimes.

  7. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 2:50 PM

    I love the people who say they killed him. Cancer killed him. And if he was alive today he would be on trial like all the other scumbags that covered Sandusky’s crimes

  8. auburntigers34 says: Mar 8, 2014 2:51 PM

    Saint Joe worshippers giving out thumbs down in the comments section like a beast. Joe Pa loves you.

  9. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 8, 2014 2:53 PM

    Why can’t Penn State just keep their mouths shut and move on?

    JoePa knew and went to his grave knowing he aided and abetted a known child molester. THAT is what killed JoePa, he gave up his will to live and let the cancer take him to avoid jail time himself.


  10. goodfieldnohit says: Mar 8, 2014 2:58 PM

    It’s small wonder why Bill O’Brien couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.

  11. musketmaniac says: Mar 8, 2014 3:32 PM

    love you fellow haters, and conspiracy hunters. Does anybody else besides myself, believe that Busy Arnold turned out Jo pa when he was at Brown.

  12. derekgorgonstar says: Mar 8, 2014 4:10 PM

    Ped State will live on forever.

    People could have forgotten it, but the PSU homers are acting like total tone-deaf douchebags about it, it’s never going to die.

  13. coltzfan166 says: Mar 8, 2014 4:16 PM

    You don’t call the police and report a child molester if you have no proof of it happening. Paterno never witnessed anything. Leave him alone.

  14. auburntigers34 says: Mar 8, 2014 4:28 PM

    you don’t? someone on your staff comes to you and tells you that they witnessed a child being sexually assaulted in your athletic complex by someone that still has an office(hmm, wonder why that is?) and you just sit on it and don’t do a damn thing?

    Paterno should be rotting in Hell right now….and hopefully, he is.

  15. fester73 says: Mar 8, 2014 4:46 PM

    Well all i know is the man who witnessed the sick acts, ran to an old man and called his daddy instead of the police, he should be getting prosecuted also

  16. mmmpierogi says: Mar 8, 2014 4:50 PM

    auburntigers34 says:
    Mar 8, 2014 2:36 PM
    He’s ashamed of firing someone that knowingly covered for a pedophile….leading to who knows how many more assaults?


    The guy never said that he was ashamed of firing Paterno — he said that he’s ashamed of how the events transpired, namely how Paterno never had an opportunity to defend himself or explain what he saw or knew before actions were taken against him.

  17. PanchoHerreraFanClub says: Mar 8, 2014 5:07 PM

    He is ashamed of firing a guy who let a kiddie raper have free reign at the university. This is the reason some of the trustees should be doing hard time!

  18. auburntigers34 says: Mar 8, 2014 5:45 PM

    mmmpierogi says: Mar 8, 2014 4:50 PM

    then his shame is still misguided. paterno’s not a victim in all of this. if he wants to feel shame, it should be for the fact that a lot of kids were molested that wouldn’t have been….if Joe Pa(the godfather of PSU) had his priorities in order. Joe Paterno only cared about one thing…..getting that stupid all time wins record.

    God bless Bobby Bowden for keeping him from getting the damn thing.

  19. stew48 says: Mar 8, 2014 6:13 PM

    Most of these comments confirm that we are a very sick nation.

  20. dirtyharry1971 says: Mar 8, 2014 6:18 PM

    Now if only they would close this school already, it doesn’t deserve to be open and I sure as hell don’t want my tax money going to this scumhole

  21. cfballfan1 says: Mar 8, 2014 7:27 PM

    Just a glimmer of the larger truth in this statement. The Board of Trustees panicked and fired Paterno & Spanier without due process to quell the public calls for blood.

    How many members of the PSU Board of Trustees knew about or at least heard whispers about what Sandusky did and aided in a cover – up behind the scenes. Then then hired Freed to write up an indictment that obviously pointed the finger at Sandusky but also cast blame on everyone but themselves. Ditto for the slimy Governor.

    Paterno may not have been totally innocent, but he got what others at PSU deserved and still deserve without due process or his day in court.

  22. jg8771 says: Mar 8, 2014 7:32 PM

    dirtyharry1971 says:
    Mar 8, 2014 6:18 PM
    Now if only they would close this school already, it doesn’t deserve to be open and I sure as hell don’t want my tax money going to this scumhole

    This is the type of comment (and they’re all too common on this site) that makes me worry about this country’s future.

    Penn State is not a football team. The Pennsylvania State University is the primary educational institute of the sixth most populous state in this country. It was just voted the 39th best University in the world by US News & World Report. There are 40,000 undergraduate students studying there and 800,000 living alumni contributing to human civilization. But one sick guy committed awful crimes and 4 other guys might have covered it up (we’ll find out for sure when they have their trials later this year) so you want to shut this entire institute down? How in the world does that make any sense in your mind? Would shutting Penn State down improve our country or help anyone in any way what so ever?

  23. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 8:16 PM

    Jg, I get what your saying but I think the bigger problem with humanity is the fact that if you asked the 40,000 students what they thought about Paterno most of them would defend him til the day they died. That goes for a majority of the millions of alumni. at least the people on here are reacting to a heinous crime. People defending Paterno are defending him simply cause he won football games. PSU always pretended to be above that but it turns out it is won of the worse offenders in the history of college football.

  24. megary says: Mar 8, 2014 8:32 PM

    Unfortunately most people that comment here have no idea what happened at Penn State. All they have is a rushed narrative from ESPN. Yet they pass judgment as if they are the morality police.

    I am no PSU fan, but I will guarantee that Mike and Mike got this one more than a bit wrong.

  25. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 8:45 PM

    megary, spoken like a true PSU fan.

  26. megary says: Mar 8, 2014 10:34 PM

    pat, I am not a PSU fan. And I suggest you do a bit of research before you comment any further on a subject you know so little about.

    ESPN chose the wrong narrative for the sake of headlines and ratings. The real story, what would have done the most good, is not that a bunch of loonies tried to save a football program by covering for a predator. Rather they should have said what is the truth: if someone can fool a bunch of really decent people, they can fool you as well.

    But that doesn’t sound so exciting now, does it?

  27. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:46 PM

    megary I’m not sure how you know where I’m getting my info from but let me assure you I’ve read quite a bit about this subject and that’s how I formed my opinion. Not even sure what you’re talking about when it comes to ESPN. But I will say this, every PSU fan I’ve ever talked to about this said the same things you are saying. Verbatim. I think Jay Paterno is teaching a class on what to say on this subject at PSU.

  28. pat199192 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:59 PM

    The last thing I’m gonna say is if you’ve done the research you claim I should have done and the only conclusion you could come up with is Sandusky just fooled a bunch of good people then you’re better than Sandusky cause you fooled a lot of people into thinking you’re intelligent.

  29. megary says: Mar 8, 2014 11:25 PM

    Ok pat…if you have done your research like you say, then you would be well aware that, if alive, Paterno would not be on trial for his actions.

    But I bet that felt good when you typed it out, yes?

  30. clemsonstillsucks says: Mar 8, 2014 11:42 PM

    You two pipe down. I’m still waiting to hear the part where the coaching staff calls the police to report the previously suspected, and admonished, pedophile….

    That happens here, right? You mean it didn’t?

    Well….why not?

  31. sailbum7 says: Mar 9, 2014 3:07 AM

    Those who condemn Paterno obviously have not educated themselves about the events. The reality is that McQueary was the one that claimed he saw something, although his story changed several times, and only he was in a position to go to the police. Paterno saw nothing! He was told by McQueary that he saw heard some noises and saw the two of them hrosing around in the shower. McQueary never told Paterno that he saw anything sexual going on. McQueary changed this story several times, but everyone he talked to had the same story, McQueary never actually said he saw anything sexual going on. Who are you going to believe, McQueary who kept changing his story, or everyone he spoke to that said the same thing.

    Paterno reported what he was told by McQueary to his bosses at Penn State so that they could take appropriate action. Since Paterno did not see anything himself he was in no position to go to the police – they would not have acted on hearsay and all they would have done was talk to McQueary. Based on what McQueary originally said he witnessed, the police would not have been able to take any action since McQueary could not identify the boy. Also, Sandusky was no longer a coach so Paterno was not in a position to take any action against him. Paterno wanted to ban Sandusky from Penn State facilities but was told he could not do that because of the emeritus status that Sandusky had been granted by the board of trustees. This had been done without Paterno’s knowledge or endorsement, it was a decision driven by Spanier.

    What it comes down to is that Paterno did all that he could legally do and was unfairly fired as a scapegoat for the inactions of his superiors at Penn State.

  32. joewilliesshnoz says: Mar 9, 2014 6:19 AM

    Joe Pa = Scumbag

  33. drubyy1993 says: Mar 9, 2014 6:35 AM

    The sad thing is is that it seems like everyone is losing sight on the kids who were the real victims here

  34. dhardy8207 says: Mar 9, 2014 9:39 AM

    McQueary, the eye witness, saw/heard some suspicious events/noises and as a grown 26 year old man did not intervene, didn’t question Sandusky on the spot. He went home and consulted his father and several others before reporting what he saw/heard to Paterno the next day. If Paterno had called the police at the time he learned of the incident, what could he have told them? Could he have given them a description of the victim? Could he have given them any detail? Did he possess any proof of what he would have been reporting? Any substantial evidence to warrant an investigation by the police? NO; the only one that could have done that was the one that witnessed this apparent incident and chose to walk away and leave a young boy exposed to the intentions of a pedophile. Ever wonder how McQueary could have walked away? Ever wonder how he went home and slept that night? Why no hatred being spewed on this thread for that behavior or lack of concern for the victim? Oh, wait he wasn’t an icon with lots to lose. He wasn’t one with an impeccable reputation over 6 decades, greatly admired and respected within college football. Just isn’t as appealing to ridicule and rip apart a graduate student/assistant coach who had the opportunity to rescue this victim and chose to walk away.

    Paterno reported the information that was given to him to his superiors because he didn’t witness it and was told about the incident hours after the fact. Did he relent later on and admit that he should have done more? Yes.

    In the late 1990 incident, Sandusky was investigated and no evidence was found to prove he did anything wrong. He was allowed to continue to mentor young boys through a major charity in the community, so he obviously fooled a lot of people, not just those at Penn State.

    I’m not a Penn State fan, so I don’t have a bias. I have however been a college football fan all my life, and watched Joe Pa lead a program with great respect from his peers. He has thousands of players over his 60 year tenure that speak nothing but respect and admiration for how he treated them. Someone mentioned Bobby Bowden, who commented in an interview after Paterno died that he would never believe that Paterno willingly looked the other way and allowed this to happen. So I’m going to believe the people that actually knew this man, actually had contact with him, and actually knew his character.

  35. auburntigers34 says: Mar 9, 2014 10:02 AM

    Bowden said that? try again.

  36. bigd88 says: Mar 9, 2014 11:39 AM

    If Pat199192 did all this research as he says, I would love to hear his thoughts about lead prosecutor Frank Fina unequivocally stating “there is no evidence that Joe Paterno covered up any of Sandusky’s crimes.”
    Surely this message board warrior doesn’t have more information about this case than the prosecutor who oversaw the entire ordeal.

  37. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 9, 2014 12:18 PM


    Tread carefully on Happy Valley DA”s. Happy Valley is not pristine, and Penn State is the epicenter.

  38. bigd88 says: Mar 9, 2014 12:26 PM

    Frank Fina was the Chief Deputy Attorney General. Not a “Happy Valley DA.” He was a state agent. Try again, troll.
    And I still eagerly await an answer to my question from pat.

  39. eidolon21 says: Mar 9, 2014 1:07 PM

    once again AAS states the facts incorrectly to help scapegoat Joe Paterno

  40. dhardy8207 says: Mar 9, 2014 2:44 PM

    auburntigers34 says:
    Mar 9, 2014 10:02 AM
    Bowden said that? try again


    Making a “terrible mistake” was a reference in not reporting to anyone over the administration. However, I watched Bowden’s interview on ESPN where he said that he didn’t believe Paterno would participate in a cover up nor would he have maliciously participated in enabling Sandusky. I don’t have to read an article that could be worded to futher public speculation to know what I saw and heard.

  41. musketmaniac says: Mar 9, 2014 2:59 PM

    Research, obviously your not going far enough back. say all the way back to Jo pa`s childhood. Poor immigrant N.y. city. He had a wealthy benefactor, Busy Arnold a comic strip icon. Very wealthy and strange who made millions in comics. He took interest in a teenage Jo pa. paying his tuition and room and board at Brown university. That’s all fact, time for speculation. What little information I can find about Arnold, was this Salvador Dahli look alike never married, and was always mentioned with two male partners over his lifetime. in my opinion he was jo pa`s sugar daddy. before you laugh look at the facts. Jo pa was wearing depends around his 50th birthday, Straight men that age don’t need those things. In my opinion Jo pa knew about the situation, but didn’t realize the times have changed. Sue kept the same house for fourty years, he never changed his clothing style, glasses or hat. He became so obsessed with Psu football that he didn’t realize the world changing around. His old world where immigrant children were fed to pedophiles in almost a normal fashion was a way of life. He didn’t realize what a travesty the situation was until it was too late. The man never changed once with the world around him. The saddest part is he was victim also, but the people in happy valley will never see anything except for wins and losses.

  42. eidolon21 says: Mar 9, 2014 3:20 PM

    this guy musketmaniac is sick
    may God help you

  43. dkhhuey says: Mar 9, 2014 3:27 PM

    I love all of the PSU drones who come on and immediately state that if you say anything negative about Joe Paterno in this scandal then you obviously haven’t read all of the documents and don’t have all the facts. Sorry, I’ve read all of the documents and I’ve read all of the transcripts and the bottom line –

    Joe Paterno knew what was going on.
    Joe Paterno helped covered it up.
    Joe Paterno turned his back on the entire situation.
    Joe Paterno gave McQueary a coaching job to shut him up.
    Joe Paterno enabled Sandusky to continue to molest and anally rape children.
    Joe Paterno got exactly what he deserved!

  44. megary says: Mar 9, 2014 3:56 PM

    Huey…let’s see…


    We’ll done.

    ESPN establishes the narrative, the sheep follow along.

  45. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 9, 2014 4:56 PM

    To Penn State supporters,

    The article posted was on Ray Gricar and his disappearance while Centre County DA. As DA, Gricar had his run ins with Penn State and Joe Paterno. That being said, Joe Paterno is dead, there is nothing I can say nor post that will change your minds on a dead man who was fallible.

    Point is that if you care less about the disappearance of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Centre County on results of a local drug bust and yet are ready, willing and able to defend Joe Paterno for the sake of football victories, then you have lost your souls.

    Is Happy Valley a linch pin in heroin trafficking to
    Philly and NYC? People locally know the facts.
    Happy Valley isn’t that large a place. People know the facts. Is it not probable that Happy Valley thought they could “contain” the Sandusky case? Is Joe Paterno so revered (rightly so) for what he did on the field and with his players, yet He turned a blind eye on serious additional crimes. Say it ain’t so, Joe!

    What makes you so sure he didn’t know what Sandusky was as a person and kept him close in Happy Valley to keep an eye on him? We’ll never know as Joe Paterno took what he actually knew to the grave.

    We do have a dying declaration from Joe Paterno
    in which he said “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.” If Joe Paterno had a clear conscience,
    why even make the statement?


  46. eidolon21 says: Mar 9, 2014 5:05 PM

    Trying to connect Gricar to Paterno and Heroin trafficing is pretty nuts even for you.
    I guess you guys in Alabama know all about local State College Pa.
    Just admit you don’t like it that Jo Pa eclipsed the Bear’s accomplishments. Its OK but Sour Grapes this long after the fact just shows your lack of class.

  47. dhardy8207 says: Mar 9, 2014 6:09 PM

    @ Amos:

    You and I have agreed on many threads on CFT, and unfortunately we don’t on this one. I am not a PSU supporter, I’m a BAMA gal, born and raised. But see this is where I have a problem with your theory on what Paterno may or may not have known.

    In the late 1990 case, the allegations were investigated this according to documents at that time and even revisted in the Freech report. Now if you believe that one is innocent until proven guilty and everyone deserves due process under the law then you would have to be alleging that the entire Happy Valley police department, mayor, police chief and all law abbiding citizens just looked the other way along with Paterno and the administration. Not only that, you would also be insinuating that for years parents and community leaders let their sons be mentored by him with the knowledge that he was previously accused of deviate sexual acts with a minor. Remember Sandusky was co founder of this charity. He wasn’t the only one overseeing matters that involved those children. It would take an entire community as we all know you can’t hide spit in a small town, collectively covering it up. You are entitled to your opinion and I know from past post that this hits close to home with you because of an incident that YOU personally witnessed. However, Paterno didn’t personally witness the shower incident. Why are you not just as infatically judgemental of McQueary? Why is it that all the blame in its entirety has been cast on the shoulders of one man who wasn’t even on campus when McQueary supposedly saw what he reported hours later. If the act was so disturbing and clear cut that sexual abuse was committed, how could he walk away and not come to the aid of a child being molested? Your on personal encounter you were the one that reported it to the authorities. Did you have to go home and talk it over with your dad and some others before then going to another person the next day and reporting it? He had as much access to pick up the phone as anyone. Being the eye witness he had more moral and legal obligation to immediately intervene, get the child to a safe place and immediately make a phone call to the police.

    “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.” Means just that. He received second hand information and did what he thought would be the first chain of process, report it to the Administration and expect them to contact the authorities (police) call McQueary in to personally tell them what he witnessed. That statement would mean to me that regardless if he couldn’t be sure by McQueary’s own statements that he witnessed sexual abuse that he would have went beyond administration and contacted the authorities. You are right that we will never know now, all that is on record is that Freech stated by his report that Paterno should have gone beyond merely reporting it to the administration of the university but there was no evidence that he engaged in a cover up.

  48. wadaea says: Mar 10, 2014 10:21 AM

    Penn State continues to be the example of everything wrong with college football. Have some guts and stand behind your decision. Just like Woody Hayes when you think you are above the law and rules it comes out ugly.

  49. corvusrex96 says: Mar 10, 2014 4:31 PM

    The problem is it really wasn’t 61 years of exemplary service. B/C if it was you wouldn’t have had to fire him by phone

  50. musketmaniac says: Mar 10, 2014 8:29 PM

    eid21 it’s weak minded fools, like yourself sir. That make feel deep down inside every day. And thank god, I am a atheists.

  51. dkhhuey says: Mar 10, 2014 10:51 PM

    I love the fact that PSU is now and will forever be known as Pedophile U and Joe Paterno’s legacy is now and will forever be a heaping pile of feces and he knew that before he bit the farm! Rest in hell Joe – you earned it all for your precious PSU.

  52. dkhhuey says: Mar 11, 2014 11:46 AM

    @megary – I find it sad that you feel the need to up vote yourself that many times! Seek help and move on.

  53. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: Mar 11, 2014 12:04 PM

    Don’t feel bad, Joe had to go! no other option. Looks like this guy just wanted to get his 15 minutes of fame. Or if he is serious then wow…

  54. novasportsfan says: Mar 13, 2014 12:04 AM

    Everyone likes to pass judgement like they know the facts. Only a few people know the truth. So give it a rest you bunch of blow hard know it alls.

  55. donjsmith says: Mar 17, 2014 1:51 PM

    every one of you PedoSU fans make me sick when you defend Paterno in ANY WAY…

    he was the king of the college, and you all know it… easily the most powerful man at PSU, maybe the most powerful person in the state… he let it slide, and you all know it deep down…

    and when you try to cover for him, you come across just like JoePa does-creepy, and more concerned with your image than the health and well-being of children… shame on you all if you defend him…

    he is the worst type of human, someone able to pass himself off as classy and concerned about more than sports, when in reality he was concerned more about the PSU football image than about protecting the weakest among us…

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