Joe Paterno Fired from Penn State, Asks Rioting Students for Calm

Nov 10, 2011, 09:39 by R.E. Christian

Former Penn State University football Coach Joe Paterno said he is disappointed with the decision to fire him, but he "accepts it."

"A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed," Paterno said Thursday in a statement. "I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value."

Students took to the streets of State College, Pa., Wednesday after receiving word Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier both were let go Wednesday in the child sex scandal surrounding Paterno's former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Police said students threw rocks, toppled lamp posts and overturned a television news van before they were finally dispersed early Thursday.

Paterno said he was "disappointed with the board of trustees' decision, but I have to accept it."

He said he considered himself "incredibly blessed" to have spent his entire career "working with people I love."

"I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program," Paterno said. "And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt."

More than 1,500 students began their protests against the decision to fire the winningest coach in major college football history on campus and then moved to the downtown area. Police responded by firing pepper spray.

"We got rowdy and we got maced," Jeff Heim, 19, told The New York Times. "But make no mistake -- the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend."

Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley was named interim head coach, the university said. Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson will serve as acting president.

Paterno said Wednesday he planned to retire at the end of the football season, his 46th as coach.

Sandusky, 67, a retired defensive coordinator who once was considered Paterno's heir apparent, was arrested Saturday and charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys in a 15-year period.

Paterno was widely criticized for not involving police -- although an indictment states he contacted Athletic Director Tim Curley -- when he allegedly learned Sandusky had been caught in 2002 having anal intercourse with an at-risk 10-year-old boy in the shower at the Nittany Lions' practice center.

Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, who oversaw campus police, were indicted, charged with perjury and failure to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations as required by state law.

Source: UPI