Paterno Fired for 'Failure of Leadership'

Penn State board of trustees details how it came to decision to fire 'Joe Pa'

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2012 3:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – Penn State fired iconic coach Joe Paterno last year for his "failure of leadership" in not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky's alleged sex abuse of young boys, according to a report the university's trustees released today detailing the reasons for their decision. While Paterno did his "minimum legal duty" in reporting Sandusky to Penn State's athletic director, the board says after agonizing days of discussion, it ultimately determined that his failure to do more "required his removal as football coach," Penn State Live reports.

Forced by the media surrounding Paterno's house to give him the news via phone, the trustees say they intended to apologize for the mode of delivery, as well as reassure Paterno that his contract and pay would continue, but they never got the chance: "Coach Paterno ended the call," the report reads. The board says that Paterno will be named head coach emeritus, but that further tributes will await an independent counsel report into the case.

In this Oct. 27, 2007 file photo, 80-year-old Penn State coach Joe Paterno runs onto the field with his team before a game against Ohio State.
In this Oct. 27, 2007 file photo, 80-year-old Penn State coach Joe Paterno runs onto the field with his team before a game against Ohio State.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno answers a question during a news conference in State College, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007.
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno answers a question during a news conference in State College, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007.   (AP Photo/Pat Little)
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