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. Jmdb25

    No one is saying Joe Pa was a part of the abuse. He was a part of the cover up. Really who does Joe report to at PSU no one! This was not a witch hunt rather a very serious cover up by top and lower level officials at this campus. All to save football. Very sad... Joe Paterno you did a lot of good things for that school however this can not be forgiven, you should not have just turned your head and allowed this guy to hold football camps under the PSU Tag or any other tag. Though you did not do anything you did not do anything to prevent it from happening again.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • JBBB

      He reported it to the DA in 2002, what more is he supposed to do? He's a football coach, not a law enforcement official. The DA is the one to blame for this, as well as like 30 other people who knew about and actually had the AUTHORITY to do something about it and didn't.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. DB

    Ok.. sad situation for Penn State. I'm alumni. Can we get back to discussing education now?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      too bad?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      No, you may not, you need to first address this horrible situation.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • OvrHyped

      Now they can focus on the more directly responsible people...Mrs. Sandusky, the staff at Second Mile, the state and local police, the Governor who had knowledge of this as well and also is on the board or PSU, the President of the University....The Icon (and he should be gone) is gone...move on.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Britt Reed

    Who cares? This is ridiculous. All this press over something that belongs in the courts. All these guys are has been's and should be shunned, not plastered all over the air. Glorifying athletes and sports organizations in a time when people can't make their mortgage or get a job should be avoided at all cost's. Lets hear some real news. Let these losers fade away into obscurity where they belong.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Kap

      Who cares? Shame on you.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Shannon

    Paterno did absolutely nothing wrong. To oust him just because a coach that was under him did something wrong and illegal, doesn't mean that he should have to take the fall too. He did report what he knew (which wasn't much) to the "higher ups" on Campus, and it isn't his job to question what action, if any, that they took or didn't take, in this case. He had knowledge of "something" happening, but not the details because the guy that witnessed it never told him what the details were. (The witness even said that he didn't elaborate.) So to throw a good coach, and a seemingly good guy out on the street is a tragedy. He did what he was required to do. Period. He didn't report it because I'm sure that he thought that the people above him would report it, and have it investigated. The poor guy is being singled out over something he didn't have control over. I feel bad for him....and I hope that everyone that is calling for his immediate removal is never in a situation where you lose your job over something your co-worker does. How angry would you be then?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Are you kidding me?

      Are you kidding me? Read the Grand Jury report. JoPa knew what was going on. Yeah sure he fulfilled his "legal" obligation but someone in his position should have followed up. Let's not forget who the victims are here. It's certainly not JoPa. Like I said, read the Grand Jury report. It's enough to make you sick.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Concerned Parent

    Dear Penn Stater for Life,
    Yes he is supposed to put his neck on the line. These are serious charges. Any person with a moral conscience would put their neck on the line. What are you thinking? Let me guess, the "W" is more important? WOW!!!!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. c230moeb

    cnn's own website has a button that should have been used by JoPa (see below)

    November 9, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse | Reply

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. dont ask

    I say let him keep coaching the rest of the season, that way he can witness in person the three losses in a row his team is going to recieve when they finally play real football teams. Go BUCKS!!!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • OvrHyped

      Do you have "go Bucks!" tatooed anywhere? Did you get it done at the same place that paid off the players and your coach covered up the crime?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • dont ask

      No, they wouldn't let me sell my season tickets to them in return. Guess we can't all sell our personal belonging for ink.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • KS

      You are extremely ignorant if you think winning these next 3 football games are really the first thing on everyone's mind right now... I'd say "typical OSU fan" but I don't want to generalize... but I guess my hopes were too high that people from other schools could put rivalry aside and think about the boys who were victims of horrible abuse and the boys who are taking the field the next 3 weeks who did NOTHING wrong but will still be the target of negative media attention.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    Also to reply to the people who say he shouldn't have an office or be allowed on campus. I am pretty sure you can't ban an employee, which Sandusky was, until he is charged with a crime. Sandusky had an office as part of his retirement package and was an emeritus professor. Unless people think morally Penn State should of done that and gotten sued by Sandusky.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Are you kidding me?

      That's the entire point here Kevin. If those in the know, like JoPa had followed up years ago, this sicko wouldn't even have an office on campus.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Mar321

      Sandusky was not going to sue anyone for failing to give him an office and have the whole story come out. Don't be ridiculous. I suspect really they fired him at the time for the behavior, but part of the deal was they wouldn't report him if he just abused kids not on the property. JoePa is finally doing the right thing here. Sorry that he's the first to go, it really should be the President and the other two should go to jail.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • LL

      Actually Kevin, at the time the assault took place, 2002; Sandusky was NOT an employee. He 'retired' in 1999 after an investigation regarding another assault. He stayed on as a volunteer, and Paterno ALLOWED that! He was absolutely 100% WRONG. There is no defense for what him and the other 2 not reporting this to the police. When you stand by and allow a crime to take place, (especially one as horrible as this one), you are as guilty as the criminal. Shame on Paterno! Read the timeline! Paterno knows he was wrong, that's about the only good thing I can say about him.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Again it is amazing how the facts are not being reported. He actually was a professor at the time it was part of his retirement package. The reason Sanducsky retired was because he was not getting the head coaching job. He was going to actually coach at a branch campus but that fell through. Really people you should read up on the facts before you comment. It just makes you look more like a paterno hater.

      "The university's online director listed Sandusky, whom PSU officials said banned from campus over the weekend — as an assistant professor emeritus of physical education in the Lasch building. "

      November 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. scr1221

    I was under the impression he was going to "retire" at the end of this year anyway, so how is this some great decision or sacrifice for him? Let's be realistic, he's only stuck around to break this most wins "trophy" and now that he has it, he's getting out. If anyone honestly thinks he's doing a lot of the coaching at his age then I have some land in South Georgia I'll be happy to sell you. In fairness to him however, there is plenty of blame to be scattered around all over the place. My real sorrow goes out to these young boys. THEY are the victims, not Joe Paterno, lest we forget that.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. leesure

    Let's not forget who was at fault...Sandusky. Paterno reported it. Would I have preferred he follow up when it was clear there was a cover up going on? You betcha, but he did what he was supposed to do. Blame Sandusky. Blame those who failed to report it. Let Paterno retire and live with his disgrace.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. WeArePennState

    As a Penn State student, it disturbs me to hear of the actions that have taken place on campus...I am saddened by this tragedy along with a lot of my peers. Be that as it may, I feel that as a student and 1 that walked the campus, went to the games and gained a wonderful education there, I can say that Paterno will be missed greatly. He is legend on the campus and is greatly respected and will continue to be despite what the public may think about his actions. We as a Penn State family stand behind him. Lookin at the facts he did what was required of him. I find it funny that alot of people have so much to say about an elderly football coach and what he should have done, but has yet to say anything about the President or anyone wlse that had hire rankings then Paterno. Now that he has stepped down, maybe focus will be put on others.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ellen

    How are people completely ignoring the truth? Joe Paterno immediately reported the second-hand account of abuse to George Schultz, the head of the University Police, who had jurisdiction over this situation. He reported this to the police, even though he was not the witness.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Are you kidding me?

      Get your facts straight Ellen. The Grand Jury report mentions nothing about this being reported to the campus police. When JoPa learned of this he called the AD on the phone. That's right, called him on the phone. If my GA came to my house trembling as he's telling me what he saw in the locker room showers, it's gonna take more action than a phone call. Read the Grand Jury report.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      He went to the AD and to Schultz, who was head of the University Police, the police force with jurisdiction in this matter.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. TAd

    This abuse thing is not his fault first off. He told his superiors who mind you went before a jury and lied. So if your looking to get your "torch and pitchforks" to attack the old guy, at least read up on the bare minimum of news that was given to a complex situation. As for him needing to step down b/c he didnt contact the police...the man has a job and im sure most of you do to. Protocol is always the number one thing you refer to, you dont go above your superiors head, you dont call them out in the media you follow protocol and do your job. SO YOU CAN KEEP IT.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Mar321

      Please. Joe Paterno probably has more power at PSU in practical terms than the AD and maybe more than the President. Do you think the AD has a real department without football? He has and had considerable leverage within the university, and he failed to use it in this instance. He did exactly the minimum he was required to do. That said, this statement is the first thing out of the University to sound like remorse, and I'm grateful for that. The President and the ADs heads should have rolled before Paterno's, but there's no doubt he was actually in a position to make a difference and he didn't.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • TAd

      So sense everyone want to point fingers where is the superstar Grad assistant and where is his blame in all this? Hes young, smart, able bodied and can go to the police just as joe or anyone else who caught wind of something that has already been taken to court once. I feel like alot of you are posting things based off of coverage you have seen forgetting who is really to blame.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mar321

      Grad student is also culpable as far as I'm concerned. First of all, for not beating the living hell out of Sandusky when he saw him. But he at least reported it, first to arguably the most important person at Penn State - a guy with tremendous leverage and power - and then discussed it again with the top PSU officials. He may have had a fear for his job (which was legit - a grad assistant does not have JoePa's security), and had he gotten fired and gone to the police directly, I'll bet no other big state university would hire him either, because he would have been branded as disloyal. I still think he should have done it anyway, because we are talking about the abuse of children, and that should take precedence, but at least at some level I understand his reluctance. Joe Paterno IS Penn State. No one would have thwarted him had he said "report it to the police and let them investigate it."

      November 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David B

    To Penn Stater for Life – You're right he had nothing to do with it. And that is the problem. He should have had everything to do with it. He should have acted like the leader he is supposed to be and taken drastic and immediate action. Instead, he did the bare legal minimum. He did what he did to protect the name of the school but did virtually nothing to protect those boys. Even with minimal information, which by the way was enough, he and his staff should have done much, much more to report and to investigate.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Should we be sad that a wealthy 84 year old will finally retire?

    This is hardly recompense for his inaction which led to more children being molested.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • TAd

      Is it sadder that you guys are attacking a guy based on his success? Kind of looks like class war fare im happy im not rich in this day and age.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
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