Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State Trustees' Report on Firings Draws Criticism

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penn State Trustees' Report on Firings Draws Criticism

Article excerpt

Days before a planned vote by Penn State University's board of trustees on governance reforms, members sought to explain anew their reasoning for actions taken Nov. 9 in the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.

But Monday's statement defending the firing of famed football coach Joe Paterno and trustees' acceptance of Penn State President Graham Spanier's resignation contained little new information. It was immediately criticized by the Paterno family and by some alumni as an effort to deflect attention from the board's own failings.

The statement, described as a "report" on Penn State's website, noted what trustees say were leadership failings by Mr. Paterno and Mr. Spanier.

It noted that a graduate assistant went to Mr. Paterno's home on March 2, 2002, and recounted seeing Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature" to a young boy.

"While Coach Paterno did his legal duty by reporting that information the next day ... to his immediate superior, the then Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, the board reasonably inferred that he did not call police," the statement read. "We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno."

It said Mr. Spanier "failed to meet his leadership responsibilities to the board" and "took insufficient action" after learning of the 2002 incident.

"This failure of leadership included insufficiently informing the board about his knowledge of the 2002 incident. He also made or was involved in press announcements between Nov. 5-9 that were without authorization of the board or contrary to its instructions," the statement read.

Trustees said Mr. Spanier -- who they contend in May gave them an insufficient briefing on a grand jury investigation into Mr. …

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