Penn State boots Paterno and university president


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Pennsylvania State University's governing board ousted football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier following growing controversy about alleged sexual abuse by a member of the Penn State coaching staff.

The Pennsylvania Board of Trustees met Wednesday night at the Penn Stater Conference Hotel, according to the Daily Collegian.

"Right now, I'm not the football coach, and that's something I have to get used to," said Paterno, who had served as the head football coach at Penn State since 1966.

Paterno said he was "absolutely devastated" by the allegations that one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, including at the Penn State football complex.

The beloved 84-year-old Paterno has been engulfed by outrage that he did not do more to stop Sandusky after a graduate assistant came to Paterno in 2002 after allegedly having seen the former assistant coach molesting a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State showers.

"This is a tragedy," Paterno said in a statement before the trustees' decision. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

Earlier in the day, when Paterno had planned to leave the team at the season's end, the coach met with his coaching staff and players in the football building at Penn State for about 10 to 15 minutes Wednesday, a team meeting players described as being very emotional. Players reportedly gave him a standing ovation when he walked out.

Junior quarterback Stephon Morris said some players also were nearly in tears as Paterno spoke.

"I still can't believe it," Morris said. "I've never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life."

Asked what was the main message of Paterno's talk, Morris said: "Beat Nebraska."

Joe Pa's ouster brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers, not just in college football, but in all sports. Paterno won 409 games, a record for major college football, and he was in the middle of his 46th year as coach.

His figure patrolling the sideline — thick-rimmed glasses and windbreaker, tie, and khaki pants — was as unmistakable at Penn State as its classic blue and white uniforms and the name Happy Valley, a place where no one came close to Paterno's stature.

The decision to boot Paterno came three days before Penn State hosts Nebraska in its final home game of the season, a day set aside to honor seniors on the team.

Penn State has bounced back from a mediocre 2010 season to go 8-1 this year, with its only loss to powerhouse Alabama. The Nittany Lions are No. 12 in the AP college football poll.

After 19th-ranked Nebraska, Penn State will plays at Ohio State and at No. 16 Wisconsin, both Big Ten rivals. The team still has a chance to play in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 3, with a Rose Bowl bid on the line.

Paterno has been questioned about how he acted when a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, reported the incident to him in 2002.

Paterno apprently notified Penn State Athletics Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz. Curley and Schultz have since been charged with failing to report the incident to the authorities.

Paterno hasn't been accused of legal wrongdoing. But he has been assailed, in what the state police commissioner called a lapse of "moral responsibility" for not doing more to stop Sandusky, whose lawyer says he is innocent. Sandusky retired from Penn State in June 1999.

In the statement, Paterno said: "I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief."

Daily Iowan Editor Adam B Sullivan and the Daily Collegian staff contributed to this report.

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