Penn State finalizes firings of Paterno, Graham Spanier

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2011 10:53 AM
Penn State finalizes firings of Paterno, Graham Spanier

By Mark Shade

STATE COLLEGE, Pa (Reuters) - Penn State University's Board of Trustees on Friday formally dismissed legendary football coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, finalizing actions announced last month.

The board's executive committee held a five-minute teleconference to make the firings official and ensure that the university was following proper procedure about public meetings, said spokesman Bill Mahon.

The university announced Paterno's and Spanier's firings on November 9, four days after former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on charges he had sex with young boys over a 15-year period.

"I think today we wanted to make sure we crossed our 't's and dotted our 'i's," Bill Mahon said.

Paterno was head coach of the Nittany Lions, a college football powerhouse, for 46 years.

Nine alleged victims have accused Sandusky of abuse, and one has filed a lawsuit against Sandusky, Penn State and The Second Mile, a charity founded by Sandusky to help troubled children.

Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, faces 40 counts for purportedly sexually assaulting eight boys over a 15-year period. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has maintained his innocence.

The executive committee voted unanimously on the resolutions severing Paterno and Spanier from their positions, Mahon said. It also voted unanimously on the resolution replacing Spanier with Rodney Erickson.

Trustee Steve Garban, chairman of the teleconference, said in a statement that the purpose of the meeting was to "reaffirm" the board's November 9 actions.

"While the board believes immediate action was necessary, it is holding a special meeting of its executive committee to reaffirm and ratify the board's prior personnel action," Garban said.

Although technically fired, Spanier still holds a tenured position with the university. Mahon said he remains eligible to go on a one-year sabbatical and return to teach at Penn State following a hiatus.

Mahon could not say for certain if the same provision worked for Paterno.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)