(CNN) -- Head football coach Joe Paterno and the university president have lost their jobs, effective immediately, over a child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, university trustees announced Wednesday night.
John P. Surma, vice chairman of trustees, said that President Graham Spanier was being replaced and Paterno, the longtime head football coach, would not finish the remainder of the season.
Tom Bradley will be Penn State head coach in Joe Paterno's absence. Rod Erickson, executive vice president and provost of the school, will be interim president, school officials said.
Spanier has been president of the school since 1995.
Earlier, Paterno, 84, issued a statement saying he was "absolutely devastated by the developments" involving a former assistant football coach and two university officials and that he would end his 46-year tenure as head football coach at the end of the season. The trustees decided to move that timetable up.
"I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief," Paterno said. "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
Paterno's contract is set to expire at the end of the season. Some had called for him to resign immediately because of his response to allegations brought to him in 2002 by a graduate assistant, who said he had seen retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, now 67, sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower at the campus football complex.
Paterno reported the allegations to his boss. Pennsylvania's attorney general said it appeared Paterno had met his obligations under state law, but critics have said the coach should have reported the suspected abuse to police.
Sandusky, who was arrested Saturday, is accused of sexual offenses, child endangerment and "corruption of a minor" involving eight boys, most or all of whom he met through The Second Mile, the charity he founded to help troubled youths, prosecutors said.
Two Penn State officials are accused of failing to report the alleged abuse.
The U.S. Department of Education said it will launch an investigation into whether Penn State failed to comply with an act requiring colleges and universities to disclose the number of reported criminal incidents on campus each year. "In addition, in certain cases, the institution must issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community," it said in a statement.
"If these allegations of sexual abuse are true then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys. If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. "Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse."
Athletes, fans and students grappled with implications of the widening scandal.
A "Blue Out" will be held at Saturday's game against Nebraska.
An unofficial Facebook page encouraged fans to wear blue "to support the victims of child abuse worldwide. The Blue Ribbon Campaign against child abuse began 22 years ago and is recognized across the country. In addition to being the color of our team's home game jerseys, blue represents the color of bruises that have too often been neglected."
Sophomore linebacker Dakota Royer told CNN that Paterno told players of his retirement plans Wednesday morning during a team meeting. Many of the approximately 150 players, coaches and school officials in attendance had tears in their eyes, Royer said.
Meanwhile, a tip line has been receiving calls from alleged victims of Sandusky, a source close to the investigation said, and police were attempting to verify the claims.
State Attorney General Linda Kelly said Monday that the alleged failure of Timothy Curley, 57, Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz, 62, the university's senior vice president for finance and business, to report abuse claims "likely allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many, many years."
Curley and Schultz, who are each charged with one count of perjury and one count of failure to report suspected abuse, were released Monday on $75,000 bail each. Their attorneys have declared that the men are innocent.
Curley and Schultz stepped down late Sunday after an emergency meeting of the university's board of trustees.
The case has raised questions on how Penn State officials handled allegations. Curley's successor, acting athletics director Mark C. Sherburne, said the school is entrusted with the lives of young people.
"We are outraged that a valued trust has been broken," he said on Penn State's sports website Wednesday. "We can promise you that we are doing everything in our power to restore that broken trust. Everyone within athletics -- coaches, administrators, staff and student-athletes -- are committed to this pledge."
CNN's Jason Carroll, Jason Kessler, Laura Dolan and Kiran Khalid contributed to this report.