Penn State Said to Be Planning Paterno Exit Amid Scandal

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno’s tenure as the coach of the Penn State football team will soon be over, perhaps within days or weeks, in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal that has implicated university officials, according to two people briefed on conversations among the university’s top officials.

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The Board of Trustees has yet to determine the precise timing of Mr. Paterno’s exit, but it is clear that the man who has more victories than any other coach at college football’s top level and who made Penn State a prestigious national brand will not coach another season.

 

Discussions about how to manage his departure have begun, according to the two people. The board is scheduled to meet on Friday, and Gov. Tom Corbett will attend.

 

Penn State is scheduled to play its last home contest of the season — its traditional senior day game — one day later, against Nebraska.

 

Mr. Paterno’s day-to-day status with the program could be affected by the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual abuse allegations. In explaining his actions, Mr. Paterno has publicly said he was not told of the graphic nature of a suspected 2002 assault by Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant, of a young boy in the football building’s showers. Mr. Paterno said the graduate assistant who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature.

 

But on Tuesday, a person with knowledge of Mr. McQueary’s version of events called Mr. Paterno’s claim into question. The person said Mr. McQueary had told those in authority the explicit details of what he saw, including in his face-to-face meeting with Mr. Paterno the day after the incident.

 

Mr. Paterno’s son Scott, who has acted as a family spokesman, and his lawyer, Joshua D. Lock, did not respond to interview requests Tuesday. Mr. Paterno was to have held a news conference Tuesday, but the university canceled it less than an hour before it was scheduled to begin. Leaving his house on his way to the football team’s practice, he told reporters: “I know you guys have a lot of questions. I was hoping I could answer them today. We’ll try to do it as soon as we can.”

 

On Tuesday night, the Board of Trustees released a statement saying it was “outraged by the horrifying details” in the grand jury’s report on the case and promised it would take “swift, decisive action.” It said it planned to appoint a special committee to undertake a “full and complete investigation.”

 

In his 46th season as the Penn State head coach, Mr. Paterno, 84, has had an extraordinary run of success: one that produced tens of millions of dollars and two national football championships for the university and established him as a revered leader in sports, but one that will end with a stunning and humiliating final chapter.

 

Mr. Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Mr. Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys across a 15-year period. After leaving the football program following the 1999 season, Mr. Sandusky worked with Second Mile, a foundation he established to help needy children.

 

Mr. Paterno has been widely criticized for failing to involve the police when he learned of the 2002 incident involving the young boy. Additionally, two top university officials — Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, and Tim Curley, the athletic director — were charged with perjury and failure to report to the authorities what they knew of the allegations, as required by state law.

 

Since Mr. Sandusky’s arrest Saturday, officials at Penn State — notably its president, Graham B. Spanier, and Mr. Paterno — have come under withering criticism for a failure to act adequately after learning, at different points over the years, that Mr. Sandusky might have been abusing children. Newspapers have called for their resignations; prosecutors have suggested their inaction led to more children being harmed by Mr. Sandusky; and students and faculty at the university have expressed a mix of disgust and confusion, and a hope that much of what prosecutors have charged is not true.

 

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