College Football: Support for JoePa eroding
By Genaro Armas
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Support for keeping Joe Paterno in his job coaching Penn State football is eroding among the board of trustees, threatening to end the 84-year-old coach’s career amid a child sex-abuse scandal involving a former assistant and one-time heir apparent.
A person familiar with the trustees’ discussions and who used the term “eroding” said it was unclear what the consequences for Paterno will be and that a decision could be rendered before the board meets on Friday.
Penn State President Graham Spanier also has lost support among the Board of Trustees, the person said, but again, how much was unclear. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Paterno’s son, Scott, said his father hasn’t spoken with Penn State officials or trustees about stepping down. Addressing reporters outside his father’s house, he said Joe Paterno plans to not only coach in Saturday’s game against Nebraska, but for the long haul.
“No one has asked Joe to resign,” Scott Paterno told The Associated Press in a text message.
Penn State administrators canceled Paterno’s weekly news conference during which he was expected to field questions about the sex abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The former defensive coordinator on Paterno’s two national championship teams in 1980s was arrested Saturday on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. His lawyer has said Sandusky is innocent.
Scott Paterno said the decision to cancel was made by Spanier’s office, and that his father was disappointed.
“I know you guys have a lot of questions. I was hoping I could answer them today. We’ll try to do it as soon as we can,” Joe Paterno said to a group of reporters as he got into his car. About a dozen students stood nearby, chanting, “We love you, Joe.”
A second person familiar with the board’s discussions said it was focused on the horrific aspects of the charges against Sandusky; two university officials have also been charged in the scandal, accused of failing to notify authorities when told Sandusky had assaulted a boy in a shower used by the football team. The person also spoke under condition of anonymity.
Trustee David Joyner said he was unaware if any decision had been made on Paterno’s future.
Authorities have said that Paterno, who testified in the grand jury proceedings that led to the charges against Sandusky, is not a target of the investigation. But the state police commissioner has chastised him and other school officials for not doing enough to try to stop the suspected abuse.
Meanwhile, another potential victim has contacted authorities.
The man, now an adult, contacted the department on Sunday after seeing media accounts of Sandusky’s arrest, Lt. David Young at the Montoursville station said. Investigators took a statement from him and forwarded it to the Rockview station for officers there to pursue, Young said.
The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, which first reported that the man had come forward, said he is in his 20s, knew Sandusky from The Second Mile charity the former coach founded in 1977, and had never told his parents or authorities about the alleged encounters from about a decade ago.
Young declined to release the man’s name or provide details about what he claims occurred.
The Patriot-News published a rare full, front-page editorial calling for this season to be Paterno’s last and for Spanier to resign immediately.
“There are the obligations we all have to uphold the law. There are then the obligations we all have to do what is right,” the editorial board wrote about Spanier’s role in the sex abuse scandal, along with Paterno’s.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in an editorial, also called on Paterno and Spanier to both resign.
A person familiar with Sandusky’s relationship to Penn State told the AP that the former coach long maintained an office in the East Area Locker building, across the street from the Penn State football team’s building, and that he was on campus as recently as week ago working out.
The university’s online directory listed Sandusky — whom Penn State officials banned from campus during the weekend — as an assistant professor emeritus of physical education in the Lasch building.
The grand jury investigating Sandusky found that he was given the office, a parking pass and other amenities as part of his 1999 retirement package.
Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said Monday in Harrisburg that Paterno fulfilled his legal requirement when he relayed to university administrators that a graduate assistant had seen Sandusky attacking a young boy in the team’s locker room shower in 2002. But the commissioner also questioned whether Paterno had a moral responsibility to do more.
“Somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child,” Noonan said.
“I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.”