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Penn State: Paterno paid through full season

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:22 PM EST, Thu January 12, 2012
Penn State is paying Joe Paterno as if he retired at the end of the season.
Penn State is paying Joe Paterno as if he retired at the end of the season.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paterno's son says his father's dismissal was not handled well
  • The renowned football coach was removed from his job on November 9
  • Paterno's dismissal came amid a sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant
  • Scandal led to the university president's firing and criminal charges against two officials

(CNN) -- Penn State is paying long-time coach Joe Paterno as if he retired at the end of the season, even though the university relieved him of his coaching duties on November 9, officials announced Thursday.

A statement by the chairman and vice chairman of the board of trustees said Paterno was removed as head football coach because he "could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties" amid sexual abuse allegations involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

"Coach Paterno remains employed by the university as a tenured faculty member," said the statement by board Chairman Steve Garban and Vice Chairman John Surma. "The details of his retirement are being worked out and will be made public when they are finalized. Generally speaking, the university intends to honor the terms of his employment contract and is treating him financially as if he had retired at the end of the 2011 football season."

The statement followed a town hall meeting Wednesday held by university President Rodney Erickson where questions about Paterno's firing were raised, the statement said.

Some university students, former players for the Nittany Lions and others were angered by the removal of Paterno, the 85-year-old coaching great who guided the team for 46 years and recorded the most wins in college football history.

After Paterno's dismissal was announced on November 9, student protesters overturned a news van and caused other minor vandalism in streets around the campus before being dispersed by police.

Penn State was rocked by accusations that Sandusky had sexually abused young boys over 14 years and that school officials failed to take complaints about Sandusky to police.

University trustees dismissed Paterno and school President Graham Spanier after a grand jury report on the case accused Sandusky of more than 50 counts of sexually abusing boys. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A Penn State graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, told the grand jury late last year that he had seen Sandusky "with a boy in the shower and that it was severe sexual acts going on and that it was wrong and over the line." He said he had gone to Paterno with what he saw.

Paterno said he'd never been told the graphic details revealed in a grand jury report, but that he nevertheless passed the allegations on to his boss. After first saying he had done "what I was supposed to do," Paterno said that "with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

It was years before law enforcement learned about the allegation. Then-Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a former university vice president who oversaw campus police, now face charges of perjury and failing to report child sexual abuse.

In a separate statement Thursday, Paterno's son Scott called the university statement "helpful."

"As has become apparent, the termination on November 9, with no notice or hearing, was not handled well," said the statement by Scott Paterno. "Joe Paterno has reiterated from the beginning that the first priority in this crisis is to serve the best interests of the victims. He believes strongly that everyone involved is entitled to due process."

The statement also said the elder Paterno "thinks that a wholesale attack on the football program and Penn State's academic record, as has happened in some quarters, is unjustified."

"This is a crisis that deserves thoughtful and thorough review," Scott Paterno's statement said. "In the course of that review and analysis, however, the legitimate achievements of this University and the many good people who worked so hard to build it into a world class institution should not be disrespected. My parents are unwavering in their loyalty and dedication to Penn State."

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