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Paterno out at Penn State

Fired along with school president

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier were fired Wednesday night by the board of trustees amid the growing furor over how the school handled child sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, was ousted at the end of day that began with his announcement to retire at end of the season, his 46th.

It was not to be.

“The university is much larger than its athletic teams,” board vice chair John Surma said during a packed news conference.

Paterno and Spanier were informed by telephone of the unanimous decisions to remove them.

“We were unable to find a way to do that in person without causing further distraction,” Surma said.

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will serve as interim coach while Rodney Erickson will be the interim school president.

“The Penn State board of trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing,” Surma said.

“The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community. But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place.”

Asked what Paterno did wrong, Surma said: “I can’t characterize that. We thought because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, it was necessary to make changes.”

Speaking outside his home, Paterno said: “Right now, I’m not the football coach. And I’ve got to get used to that. After 61 years, I’ve got to get used to it. I appreciate it. Let me think it through.”

His wife, Sue, was teary-eyed as she blew kisses to about 100 students on the lawn. “You’re all so sweet. And I guess we have to go beat Nebraska without being there. We love you all. Go Penn State,” she said.

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