Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach who preached success with honor for half a century but whose legend was shattered by a child sex abuse scandal, said Wednesday he will retire at the end of this season.
He said he hoped the team could finish its season with “dignity and determination.”
The trustees could still force him to leave immediately. It also could take action against the university president, Graham Spanier.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight children — and questions remain about how Paterno and his superiors handled at least one of the cases.
“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,” Paterno said. “I have the same goal today.”
The Penn State community was hurting Wednesday.
Players were in shock. “Crazy how twitter knew before the squad did,” Running back Silas Redd tweeted.
Some fans rallied behind Paterno, showing up at his house Tuesday night to show their support and ask him to stay.
Others were outraged, mobbing the Old Main building Tuesday where university President Graham Spanier held a teleconference with the Board of Trustees. The board issued a statement saying it is “outraged by the horrifying details” contained in a grand jury report charging that Sandusky abused eight children.
The board promised to “take swift, decisive action.” Some students say that’s not enough.
“The president hasn’t come out and addressed the students,” said Alex Braunbeck, 22, a senior from Hughesville, Pa. “Essentially it just seems like he’s gone into hiding.”
The university newspaper, The Daily Collegian, reported that Michael Pilato, who painted the prominent mural on Hiester Street featuring Paterno and Sandusky, had begun the task Wednesday of painting over Sandusky.
“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination,” Paterno said in his statement. “And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university.”
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