College Football: Penn State trustees promise to search for truth
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. ó The arduous task of rebuilding Penn State’s shattered image began Friday with a pledge by the board of trustees to search for the truth amid an unfolding child sex abuse case against a former assistant football coach, a scandal that has already claimed the jobs of coach Joe Paterno and the school’s president.
In front of an overflow crowd at a meeting that was moved from a hotel boardroom to a ballroom to accommodate more people, the trustees opened with Chairman Steve Garban welcoming the replacement president, Rod Erickson, and Gov. Tom Corbett, who had pressed publicly for fast action by trustees accustomed to deferring to Spanier.
The meeting was the first public gathering of the 32-member board in the wake of the scandal that has gripped one of the nation’s largest universities and touched off a violent student demonstration.
Garban pledged to support Erickson ó the trustees removed the “interim” tag on his new title but will continue to search for a permanent successor to ousted President Graham Spanier ó as the board works “for the future of this institution that we respect and love.” Erickson, previously the university’s longtime provost, said Penn State must devote itself to its core values ó honesty, integrity, excellence and community ó now more than ever.
“I know we can do this. We are resilient; we are a university that will rebuild the trust and confidence that so many people have had in us for so many years,” Erickson said in a six-minute speech to the trustees.
Without mentioning Spanier or Paterno, Erickson told trustees that their deliberate and decisive action had set a course for the university’s future. His heart aches for the victims and their families, he said, and he pledged to reassure Penn Staters that the university’s future is still bright.
Paterno and Spanier were fired Wednesday in the fallout of a shocking days-old grand jury report alleging repeated, illicit contact between retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and boys as young as 10 over a span of 15 years, sometimes in Penn State’s facilities.
The grand jury report said that administrators did not contact law enforcement authorities after a graduate assistant for the football team said he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy of about 10 years old in the locker room showers at the team’s practice center in 2002. Top school officials, including Paterno and Spanier, say they weren’t told about the seriousness of the matter.