Updated: January 12, 2012
Associated Press

Scott Paterno: Firing 'not handled well'


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno's son, Scott, said Thursday it's becoming apparent that his father's ouster as Penn State coach by school trustees "was not handled well."

Scott Paterno's comments Thursday were in response to a trustees' statement that Paterno was immediately removed and not allowed to retire after the season because of "extraordinary circumstances."

The latest words from the trustees come amid escalating criticism on the board and president Rodney Erickson for how the university handled the immediate aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno was fired Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was charged.

"It is helpful to have on the record the Board's position (about) my father's status with the University," Scott Paterno said in his own statement. "As has become apparent, the termination on November 9, with no notice or hearing, was not handled well.

"Joe Paterno has reiterated from the beginning that the first priority in this crisis is to serve the best interests of the victims," Scott Paterno continued. "He believes strongly that everyone involved is entitled to due process."

Representatives for the Paterno family said they were surprised by the statement from board of trustees chairman Steve Garban and vice chairman John Surma.

Paterno initially announced his retirement at the end of the season on the morning of Nov. 9. The trustees announced his firing about 12 hours later in a hastily called news conference.

Sandusky is awaiting trial after waiving a preliminary hearing last month. He has denied the charges.

Garban and Surma cited the serious allegations and "extraordinary circumstances" in referring to the board's unanimous decision "that Coach Paterno could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties and that it was in the best interests of the University to make an immediate change in his status."

Paterno remains employed as a tenured faculty member, and details of his retirement were being worked out and would be made public when finalized.

The university intends to honor Paterno's contract as if he had retired at the end of the 2011 football season, the trustees said.

Paterno, a witness before a grand jury investigating Sandusky, is not a target of the probe. The trustees' decision to oust Paterno came as criticism built that school leaders should have done more to prevent alleged abuse.

According to Scott Paterno, his father sees a "wholesale attack on the football program and Penn State's academic record, as has happened in some quarters," as unjustified.

"This is a crisis that deserves thoughtful and thorough review. 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," Scott Paterno said before concluding, "My parents are unwavering in their loyalty and dedication to Penn State."

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