Joe Paterno to retire at season's end
Joe Paterno, who has coached at Penn State for 45 years, is not facing charges in the case.
November 9th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

Joe Paterno to retire at season's end

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.

iReport: What's your reaction?

“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.”

iReport: Penn State student praises Paterno

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.

Penn State's Paterno faces pressure to quit

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.

Timeline: Abuse claims date back to 1994

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.

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Filed under: College football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (1,074 Responses)
  1. The Dude

    Penn State Alumni and students will not make Paterno the pedophile's legacy. The World will.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    I’m sorry, but some of you people are completely clueless on this. First, separate Paterno’s “legal” liability here from his moral and ethical liabilities. He did the bare minimum by reporting the abuse to his superiors. Bravo. He should have reported the abuse to the police! This is no different from Catholic bishops not reporting abuse by clergy to local police. At a minimum, Paterno will likely be sued for not doing more and turning a deaf ear and blind eye to obvious signs of what was happening. Why did he fire Sandusky in 1999 after the initial abuse incident? Why did he continue to do nothing when Sandusky would continue to bring kids onto campus? After the 2002 incident, why did Paterno continue to allow Sandusky to bring kids to football practices? Why did Paterno give his approval for Sandusky to run football clinics on the Penn State campuses, as recently as this year? When a Penn State football players farts, Paterno know about it. So there’s no way he didn’t know fully what was going on with his defensive coordinator and friend, who he continued to cover up for, even after he had fired him.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • dixick

      Well said, Kevin!!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Frank Canadian

    What is so sad is the cover up by Joe and he said he did everything possible. Well I hope it never happens to his grandchild the see how fast he responds to the PROPER AUTHORITIES.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      He may as well have molested those kids himself. He needs to go today, not at the end of the season.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • matt

      Then the janitors, who didn't report it need to go also. Stop picking on Joe just because he is the "big" name in this situation.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • autogerry

      WHAT COVERUP??????? Joe saw NOTHING to report. An allegation was brought to his attention which he reported to the proper authority!!! But, as we all know, Hearsay is NOT admissable in court FOR A REASON!!!!! I'm always amazed at how many people just can't wait to condemn someone for something they know nothing about!! Joe Paterno (whom I do not know and have never met) has spent decades doing good things for College Age young men and did NOTHING wrong!!! STOP JUDGING THAT YOU NOT BE JUDGED!!!! UNLESS joepa himself saw something , there was nothing for him to report to ANYONE. Leave the man alone!!!

      November 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Archibald

      autogerry, for the record, there are a number of situations in which hearsay evidence is entirely admissable in court. Let me ask you this. Someone comes to you today and says they saw a fellow employee, naked, in the shower with a 10yo boy and that there "might" have been "something weird" going on. No explicit details or anything, just that. You're seriously saying that as a person in a position of power, that just kicking it up the chain is all you need to do?

      November 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Right- retire at the end of the season? That's what Ghadafi said.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      Exactly. He will be gone by next week.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • matt

      No he won't. He will ride off into the sunset as the winningest coach in major college football. He has earned the right to go out on his terms. This one incident can't take that away.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • DP

      Yeah, and he lost his last game...

      November 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    "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." -Joe Paterno

    Correct Joe. A the time it was imperative that you do more. Silence over a period of years probably resulted in who knows how many more children being abused.

    For the victims let's hope they get the help they need and deserve. For those thus far charged with a crime may justice prevail. For the rest of us let this be a stark reminder that we all have a moral duty to society. One of those duties is to protect children from abuse of any kind.

    I hope the students and alumni of Penn State acknowledge that their hero faltered at a critical moment, and that there was no excuse, and that he gets no free pass. The Coach is a good man and has had an exceptional career, but none of that trumps his moral culpability in this case.

    As far as the Coach goes, he will finish out the season then retire. How sad that a man of such stature go out in such a bad way. He failed. It's on him.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • cck99352

      I agree – well said.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Unfortunately,those same "students and alumni" just held a rally for him yesterday...some people just don't get it.
      Life is about more than football statistics.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. pete

    Joe did what was required. he followed the chain of command and it was then up to his superiors to follow through. if you believe that Joe should have done more than get rid of the reporting rules...it was not up to him to follow through......

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • CWSTEXAS

      Paterno resigning at the end of the year is NOTHING. He was going to do that anyway.

      I wonder what would have been done had it been one of Joe’s grandkids in that shower? You can bet your last Nittany Lion things would have been handled differently. Paterno would have done more than just “report it to his superiors”.

      Don’t ALL children deserve the same consideration we would give our own during times like this?

      If we start using “policy and laws” as barometers for our moral obligations, we are in big trouble.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • natalie

      I believe the law states he would need to alert the police and that goes for the graduate student too. Everyone is complicit. Read the indictment if you are not sure about it. It is truly a disgusting read of complicity.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • ME

      It is Absolutely his obligation to report this to legal authorities.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      How can Paterno suddenly be sad and shocked by this? Hasn't he or wasn't he sad and shocked for the past 9 years?
      These people are educators, or so they say. What kind of educators would sweep this under the rug, keep quiet about it all these years, and let it happen to more victims? How can he take the sideline on Saturday vs. Nebraska? He should resign immediately, as well as the president of Penn State – and all who knew about even the possibilities of what this man did or could continue to do. Really, this sadly reminds me of the Catholic church and even our own government.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Carol

    Paterno reported the incident, reported to him to, his Boss. The Boss whoever that was or is should have reported it to the police or to someone above him if he had to report it to his boss. Every organization has rules to follow and Paterno followed the Universities rules.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • natalie

      But not the laws of the land. University rules do not trump law. Read the indictment before you make the statement. It will change your mind.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      If you were Joe and an intern came to you freaking out about seeing an act of child molestation would you have called your boss then forgot about it? You wouldn't have wanted to know if the child was found and helped? You wouldn't care if Mr. Sandusky got away scott free to molest again and again? You'd feel good believing that simply reporting it to your boss was enough. You'd know nothing was done to stop Sandusky from molesting. To this day you'd have no idea if the children he molested got help. Does their suffering bother you?

      How would you feel about Joe if a child of yours was a victim? Would you say well, Joe told his boss and never followed up. Followed University protocal. He has no culpability

      November 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    I understand that Sandusky is married? Wonder what his wife thinks of all this? There is no way she did not know about his behavior. The whole situation is disgusting on so many levels.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • fgfljsb

      if you read the grand jury "stuff" a lot of this happened in the house Jerry and his wife share. you cant tell me she didn't know. WHAT wife doesnt know about something like this that goes on for so long. WHY aren't the media all over her case for not reporting it? because she's not THE football coach, that's why. I "get" Joe should have done more, but the BLAME here falls to SO MANY others as well....

      November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chester

    I feel for the guy. Im sure he regrets not doing more and he will deal with that guilt for the rest of his life. I dont blame him for what he did. I would of probably done the same thing if someone told me the story second hand. It happened where I work I would of told a superior. People are really coming down on Paterno here because he's the big name in the story but The bigger guilty individuals in this story rank Sandusky, Curley, Schwarzt, McQuery then a distant Paterno. People can be a little hypocritical about this story because I dont know many who would of gone to the police. They would of questioned and reported it the same way Paterno did. We make immoral decisons and chioces everyday dont be casting stones on the guy when your no better.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jim in PA

    Paterno was retiring this year anyway, and is dishonestly trying to parley this retirement into some show of "concern" for the kids. He was hanging on as coach so he could get to the magic goal of 409 victories, which he achieved in October, thereby setting the record for largest number of wins by any college football coach. I hope people call him on this.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Karen

    This is a sad day for everyone. What infuriates me is WHY did the State Police and District Attorney drop their investigation of Sandusky in 1998? If they had pursued it we wouldn't be here. What about Spanier, and Mike Mcquery? If Joe showed poor judgment than so did they. Has everyone forgotten that Sandusky left Penn State after the 1998 investigation? Why did Spanier allow him on campus after that? Why is it so easy point fingers but only selective fingers at selective targets? Although I personally think Sandusky is guilty, and should and ultimately will be locked away forever, what happened to, innocent until PROVEN guilty in a court of law? The Jackals have been waiting for a way to get rid of Paterno for a long time, but as always, he is doing it his way.....read his statement....

    November 9, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Read the attorney general's deposition on this...Sandusky actually admitted to the one mom that he did something. She recorded the conversation on her cell phone and everything. I agree on people being "innocent until proven guilty",but he already confessed to one,which apparently was/is only the tip of the iceberg.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. matt

    Can you say...Urban Meyer!!? PSU's next coach will be able to recruit the southeast with his connections!! PSU will soon be contending for the National Championship every year!! It all works out in the end!!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. cck99352

    He should be fired. Now.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    This man did the right thing in 2002. Amazing how stupid people are. He was told and went to his boss with information. It's sad that his boss cover it up. To the people who say he should of done more. Saying that means the kid who went to Joe should of done more and to the cops.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • CWSTEXAS

      A LOT OF PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE. INCLUDING PATERNO.

      Paterno resigning at the end of the year is NOTHING. He was going to do that anyway.

      I wonder what would have been done had it been one of Joe’s grandkids in that shower? You can bet your last Nittany Lion things would have been handled differently. Paterno would have done more than just “report it to his superiors”.

      Don’t ALL children deserve the same consideration we would give our own during times like this?

      If we start using “policy and laws” as barometers for our moral obligations, we are in big trouble.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Oh my, look at some of these posts. Some people truly believe that going to the boss satisfied Joe's moral duty. Some actually feel that only the most culpable should shoulder blame. Sorry, that's twisted!

      Yes, the intern failed exactly the same way as Joe did. Find some scale to assign percentage of blame if you want to but the fact is:

      Children were being molested. All involved knew who was doing it. None involved did a damn thing to stop him. It went on for years after they knew about it and nobody in the loop cared!

      Joe and the others knew nothing had been done to stop Sandusky. They didn't care witnessed by their inaction. From the assistant intern who is now a Penn State Football Coach, to Paterno, to the schools administrators that are now indicted....they all share guilt and there is no excuse for any of them.

      Sure, nobody's perfect. I've screwed up, we all do from time to time. But we suffer the consequences, and others do to. Hopefully we don't make excuses, accept that we were wrong, and move on.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sir_ken_g

    He won't last that long.
    Folks always want to string it out – but it does not work that way.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
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