Paterno’s Future in Doubt as Penn State Board Announces Probe of Sandusky Child Sex Abuse Scandal

The Penn State University Board of Trustees has launched an investigation into the university’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations levied against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The <"">Penn State child sexual abuse scandal is threatening to end the career of Nittany Lions head football coach Joe Paterno, who has come under scathing criticism for failing to follow-up on a report he made to Penn State administrators regarding Sandusky’s alleged conduct.

According to various media reports, in 2002, Paterno received a graphic description of sexual abuse Sandusky allegedly committed against a young boy in the shower in the Penn State football building from then- graduate assistant coach, Mike McQueary. Paterno reported the accusation to the school’s athletic director, but apparently did little else.

According to a Pennsylvania grand jury report, former Athletic Director, Tim Curley, testified that after being informed of the allegation, he met with Sandusky and told him he was banned from bringing youth on to the Penn State campus. However, Sandusky – who had left his assistant coaching position with the university after the 1999 season – was allowed to continue using the school’s facilities, and maintained an office there until 2007. And despite the ban at the Penn State main campus, Sandusky was allowed to operate a summer football camp for boys on a Penn State satellite campus for six years.

No report of the 2002 allegation was made to police. Curley, along Gary Schultz, PSU’s senior vice president for finance and business, were arrested this week and charged with perjury and failure to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations, as required by state law in Pennsylvania. Both have resigned their positions with the university.

Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys across a 15-year period.

Both Paterno and University President Grant Spanier – who was informed by Curley of the allegation and the ban imposed on Sandusky – have faced scathing criticism for their handling of the incident, and calls for both to resign have mounted. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania state law enforcement officials said that while Paterno had met his legal obligation in alerting his superiors, he failed on a moral level by not doing more. The same officials also charged that inaction on the part of Penn State University allowed more children to become victims of abuse at the hands of Sandusky.

Last night, the Penn State University Board of Trustees held an emergency conference call that went late into the night, and later issued 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. During Friday’s regular board meeting, a special committee will be appointed to conduct an investigation into the incident. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett plans to attend that meeting. Corbett, who was Pennsylvania’s Attorney General prior to his election as governor, was involved in the state’s criminal investigation of Sandusky and Penn State officials.

Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that Paterno’s days as Nittany Lions’ head coach are numbered, with The New York Times reporting that the board is planning his exit “within days or weeks.” The reports were given some credence yesterday, when the university cancelled Paterno’s regular weekly news conference.

If Paterno is forced out of his job, it will be a sad and humiliating end to an astonishing career. Paterno, 84, has served as Penn State head coach for 46 years, and has led the Nittany Lions to two national championships. He is distinguished for not only having racked up more wins than any other coach in college football, but ironically, for being one of the most ethical coaches in the sport.

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