Paterno calling it a career

Joe Paterno has announced his intention to step down as coach of the Penn State football team, ending a nearly five-decade association with the team tainted by a sexual abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno expressed deep remorse and regret toward the families involved, saying the weight of the scandal has become unbearable.

“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief,” Paterno said in a statement. “I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.

“That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.”

The announcement comes one day after the New York Times reported that the 84-year-old coach would be removed from his post – perhaps within days or weeks. Paterno’s son, Scott, tweeted that the “NYT report (is) premature. No discussions about retirement with JVP.”

He then reiterated those sentiments when both Joe and Scott Paterno left to attend football practice later in the day.

One day later, Paterno confirmed rumors that had been circulating Wednesday morning.

“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university.”

Paterno is expected to be at the helm Saturday when the No. 12 Nittany Lions play their home finale against No. 19 Nebraska.

The university’s Board of Trustees released a statement late Tuesday night in which it said it was “outraged by the horrifying details” contained in the grand jury probe of Sandusky.

“We cannot begin to express the combination of sorrow and anger that we feel about the allegations surrounding Jerry Sandusky,” the statement read. “We hear those of you who feel betrayed and we want to assure all of you that the Board will take swift, decisive action.”

Sandusky, 67, was indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. He was arrested Saturday on charges that he used The Second Mile foundation – a charity which helps at-risk kids – to prey upon boys. He then allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with them, even on Penn State campus.

The Board of Trustees said it will appoint a special committee to undertake a full and complete investigation into the sordid matter.

“This Special Committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable,” the Trustees’ statement read.

Paterno met with his legal obligation in alerting his superiors when he learned of the 2002 allegation against Sandusky, although he has come under fire for a moral obligation.

Hundreds of Penn State students converged on Paterno’s house Tuesday night to loudly voice their support for the legendary coach.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported that Paterno thanked the students from his driveway and later addressed the students from the window of his house.

“My wife and I, we have 17 grandkids (ages) 16 to 3, and we pray for them every night,” Paterno told the students. “We’re going to start praying for those kids that got involved with some of the problems that were talked about.”

The boisterous crowd yelled “Joe-Joe-Joe” and “Let Joe Stay!” repeatedly when Paterno came back out of the house to talk to them again and said they should say a prayer for the kids.

A two-time national championship winner, Paterno moved past Grambling State legend Eddie Robinson with his 409th career Division I victory on Oct. 29 as the Nittany Lions posted a 10-7 win over Illinois.

Paterno, who became the Penn State coach in 1966, is now in his 46th season. He has guided the Nittany Lions to a record 37 bowl appearances – with 24 victories in that setting.

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