Joe Paterno will not be allowed to finish his 46th season as coach, as Penn State University fired the legendary football leader, along with its president Graham Spanier, in response to a widening sex abuse scandal involving the university’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.
Riot police were on hand as thousands of angry supporters of Paterno came out to voice opposition to the move by the university’s board of trustees.
The 84-year-old Paterno, who has amassed the most victories of any coach in college football, was only three games shy of completing his 46th season, when he was ousted. The action followed an earlier statement released by the coach that he would retire at the end of the season.
Sandusky, Paterno’s former assistant coach, was arrested on Nov. 5 and charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a period of 15 years.
The university has been criticized for its inability to have taken action against Sandusky, specifically after an eyewitness account which charged that he sexually assaulted a young boy in 2002.
The 67-year-old Sandusky is speculated to have started a charitable organization for young boys, The Second Mile, in order to gain access to possible victims.
In a statement issued to the press, Wednesday, Paterno said, "I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.”
The head coach of the Nittany Lions continued, “I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.”
“That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can,” Paterno added.