Paterno fired as Penn State head coach

Joe Paterno / file photo

Penn State trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid the growing furor over how the school handled sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

The massive shakeup Wednesday night came hours after Paterno announced that he planned to retire at the end of his 46th season.

But the outcry following the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges proved too much for the board to ignore.

One key question has been why Paterno and other top school officials didn't go to police in 2002 after being told a graduate assistant saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a school shower.

Paterno says he should have done more. Spanier has said he was not told the details of the attack. Sandusky has denied the charges.

On Wednesday, CNY Central reporter Alex Dunbar spoke with a 1964 Penn State graduate and president of the CNY chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. Russell Mitchell said "I fully expected coach to retire at the end of the year, this my have hastened his decision. He has been in a lot of pain since being run over by wide receiver in practice, he has not been right since then. With him not being able to coach from the sidelines and only able to coach from the booth... is not his style he would rather be on the field."

The on-field rivalry between Syracuse University and Penn State is nearly as old as the NCAA itself, with the schools having first faced off in 1922. For decades the Orange and Nittany Lions battled for superiority in northeastern U.S. college football, with SU owning many of the earliest contests but PSU dominating much of the latter part of the 20th century. The schools have met 69 times, with Penn State leading the overall series 41-23-5. In 1990, Penn State joined the Big Ten in all sports, effectively severing the relationship between the two schools. Syracuse followed suit, abandoning its independent status and becoming a member of the Big East football conference in 1991.

In 2010 SU and PSU agreed to renew their rivalry with the announcement of a three-game series beginning in 2013. The first game will be played at MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the New York Giants and Jets. The other two will be played at the Carrier Dome and in State College, Pennsylvania. However, those latter two contests are not tentatively scheduled to be played until 2020 and 2021.

Earlier Wednesday, Paterno said in a statement he was "absolutely devastated" by the case, in which Sandusky, his onetime heir apparent was charged with molesting eight boys in 15 years, with some of the alleged abuse taking place at the Penn State football complex.

"This is a tragedy," Paterno said. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

John Surma, the vice chair of the board of trustees said, "these decisions were made after careful deliberations and in the best interests of the university as a whole."Police in riot gear dispersed about 2,000 Penn State students who took to the streets after the ouster of football coach Joe Paterno. Crowds toppled a television news van and at least one photographer was pelted with a rock.

The students flooded downtown State College on Wednesday night for about three hours after Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired amid a growing furor linked to their handling of sex abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach.

Officers used pepper spray at times to control the crowd. Some students chanted `We want Joe! We want Joe!" Others kicked in the windows of a toppled news van.

About 100 police officers were downtown, many wearing helmets and carrying pepper spray. State College police said early Thursday they were still gathering information on any possible arrests.

Paterno had announced earlier in the day he planned to retire after the season and expressed remorse for not having done more after he learned of the sex assault allegations. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim coach while Rodney Erickson will serve as interim school president.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.