Joe Paterno announces his retirement (UPDATE: …and Graham Spanier’s out too)

Paterno at a press conference earlier this year.
Justin K. Aller

After 46 years, a legendary coaching career ended in scandal and disgrace this morning, as Joe Paterno announced he would be retiring as head coach of the Penn State football program. The longtime coach announced his upcoming retirement this morning, in this statement to ESPN:

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.

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.

This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university.

Paterno is still planning to coach the team in this Saturday’s home game
against Nebraska, despite overwhelming cries from the public for his
immediate resignation.

This is the 84-year-old coach’s 46th season with the Nittany Lions. Paterno came under fire after his apparent failure to follow up on a child abuse report filed against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky is charged in the sexual abuse of eight boys over the course of fifteen years. Athletic director Tim Curley has taken administrative leave and PSU Vice President Gary Schultz resigned after they were both charged with perjury for concealing what they knew about the abuse. Paterno has not been charged.

UPDATE: The Easton Express-Times is also reporting that Penn State president Graham Spanier will either quit or be fired today in wake of the scandal. Like Paterno, Spanier was informed in 2002 that an assistant coach had allegedly witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky raping a boy in a Penn State locker room, and did not report the incident to police. The Express-Times also says that Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson will be the mostly like interim President for the university.


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