The Penn State Board of Trustees issued a report Monday explaining why it decided Nov. 9 to dismiss football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier – as if they weren’t obvious.
First, on Spanier:
We determined on Nov. 9 that Dr. Spanier should be removed because he failed to meet his leadership responsibilities to the Board and took insufficient action after learning of a 2002 incident involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a Penn State facility. 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.
On Nov. 9, Dr. Spanier asked the Board for a vote of confidence. Since for the reasons cited above we were unable to provide it, we voted that evening unanimously to remove him as president and informed him of that decision. Dr. Spanier remains a tenured professor at Penn State.
Beyond the 2002 inadequacy, the bold section on Spanier’s behavior after Sandusky was indicted really demonstrated his complete lack of leadership, judgment and tact. That first statement defending the university didn’t even mention the alleged victims.
Well done, Graham.
While Coach Paterno did his legal duty by reporting that information the next day, Sunday, March 3, to his immediate superior, the then Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, the Board reasonably inferred that he did not call police. 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.
The Board spent hours on conference calls between Saturday, Nov. 5, and Tuesday, Nov. 8, discussing appropriate action and our fiduciary responsibility as the Trustees. On Wednesday evening, Nov. 9, we met in person in State College. At about 9 pm, we unanimously made the difficult decision that Coach Paterno’s failure of leadership required his removal as football coach.
Yep, that’s why he had to go. Do we want our employees doing the bare minimum – or what’s right – when the welfare of children is involved?
As for the “Joe deserved better” when it came to his dismissal:
We are sorry for the unfortunate way we had to deliver the news on the telephone about an hour later to Coach Paterno. However, we saw no better alternative. Because Coach Paterno’s home was surrounded by media representatives, photographers and others, we did not believe there was a dignified, private and secure way to send Board representatives to meet with him there. Nor did we believe it would be wise to wait until the next morning, since we believed it was probable that Coach Paterno would hear the news beforehand from other sources, which would be inappropriate.
Thus, we sent a representative of the Athletic Department to ask Coach Paterno to call us. When the coach called, the Board member who received the call planned to tell him that (1) the Board had decided unanimously to remove him as coach; (2) the Board regretted having to deliver the message over the telephone; and (3) his employment contract would continue, including all financial benefits and his continued status as a tenured faculty member. However, after this Board member communicated the first message, Coach Paterno ended the call, so the second and third messages could not be delivered.
I’m sure that will make everybody happy, right?
- Penn State Trustees Tell Their Story On Paterno (dailybigten.com)