Joe Paterno announced this afternoon that he would be stepping down as the head coach of the Penn State football football team at the end of the season. The Penn State board of trustees was not willing to wait that long. They announced tonight that both Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier have been fired.
Paterno and Spanier were not charged in connection with the sex abuse scandal currently enveloping the school. However, both men have come under heavy criticism for their inaction in connection to allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. In a statement yesterday, Joe Paterno expressed regret for not doing more.
"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life." Paterno said. "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
John Surma, Vice chair of the Penn State board of trustees announced the news in a surreal and combative press conference where reporters were noticeably angry. Surma says that the move was in the best interest of the university.
"These decisions were made after careful deliberation and in the best interest of the university as a whole. Penn State always strives for the highest moral standards in all of our activities. We promise we are committed to restoring public trust in our university."
When asked why they needed to fire Paterno now, rather than let him leave at the end of the season "with a little bit of dignity" as one reporter added... Surma said that they didn't want to allow further damage to the school.
"In our view, we thought a change now was necessary," said Surma. "To allow this process to continue was going to be damaging to the University. "
Surma says the decision to fire both Spanier and Paterno was unanimous. Paterno has been the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for the past 45 years. He holds the record for most Division 1 victories with 409, a win he recorded only 10 days ago.
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has been named interim head coach. Speaking to students outside of his house tonight, Paterno reportedly said,
"Right now, I'm not the football coach, and that's something I have to get used to."