Legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno will retire at the end of the season, he said Wednesday in a statement. Paterno's move comes in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach.
“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,” he said.
“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."
The Nittany Lions’ starting tailback Silas Redd tweeted Wednesday that he first learned of Paterno's retirement from the Internet. “Crazy how twitter knew before the squad did,” Redd said on the social-networking site.
Paterno expressed regret for not acting with more urgency after learning of the abuse allegations against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
"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," he said. "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's decision comes after Penn State's board of trustees said Tuesday it will create a special committee to investigate the sex abuse allegations, which became public last week after the release of a grand jury report on the case.
Some have called for Paterno to resign because of his response to allegations brought to him in 2002 by a graduate assistant, who said he had seen Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the shower at the campus football complex.
Several Paterno supporters weighed in on CNN iReport, expressing sadness that his legacy would be tarnished.
“I would like to see him go out on his own terms, but obviously that will not happen,” said Penn State Senior Tom McGlinchey. “If you look at the big picture of what he's done for this university, it shouldn't (be) overshadowed by the scandal ...The student body won't forget what he's done.”
But iReporter Egberto Willies said Paterno is being held to a different standard.
“Let’s be frank. Had this not been Joe Paterno, the legendary coach, we would not even be talking about whether he should resign,” Willies said.
Paterno's contract was due to expire at the end of this season. He has been the head coach since 1966.
Paterno reported the allegations to his boss. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said it appeared Paterno had met his obligations under state law, but some critics have said the coach should have reported the suspected abuse to police.
Sandusky, who was arrested Saturday, is accused of sexual offenses, child endangerment and "corruption of a minor" involving eight boys, most or all of whom he met through the Second Mile, the charity he founded to help troubled youth, according to prosecutors.
Two other Penn State officials have also been arrested and accused of failing to report the abuse. On Sunday, the university said the officials had stepped down, one of them returning to retirement and the other taking administrative leave.
It is unclear whether the university’s board of trustees will allow Paterno to finish the season or push for an immediate exit in light of increasing fallout from the abuse allegations.