The biggest story in sports, and perhaps even all of U.S. news, for the last few days has been the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University. The scandal has already led legendary head football coach Joe Paterno to announce his retirement set for the end of the season, and news broke this afternoon that the University board of trustees had asked Penn State President Graham Spanier to quit by the end of the day or be fired. Blue White Illustrated now reports that Spanier will submit his resignation tonight to the Board of Directors, and will be replaced in the interim by Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Rodney A. Erickson. SB Nation on the breaking news:
"According to Blue White Illustrated's Nate Bauer, Penn State President Graham Spanier will submit his resignation tonight to the Board of Directors and he will be replaced initially -- and perhaps permanently -- by current Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Rodney A. Erickson.
Erickson has been with Penn State since 1999 with a focus on running academic operations. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Minnesota and a PH.D from the University of Washington"
The Express-Times of Easton, Pennsylvania, first reported that Spanier had been asked to step down or be fired by the end of the day. The Express-Times writes of Spaniers actions in the scandal:
"Spanier was made aware in 2002 that a graduate assistant coach had seen former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually assault a young boy in a shower in the Penn State locker room, according to grand jury testimony. Spanier did not involve police, according to testimony. Spanier has not been charged, but there have been many calls for his resignation.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes Spanier has used his high pulpit as Penn State University president to weigh in on national issues from campus drinking and illegal music downloading to eroding public support of higher education. The Gazette notes that for more than 16 years, Spanier has led the school with 96,000 students, one of the nation's largest research universities with two-dozen campuses. Mr. Spanier's tenure is about double the national average for a sitting college president.
Joe Paterno made an announcement this morning, unaffiliated with the university, that he will retire at the end of the season, his 46th with the university.
“This is a tragedy,” said the 84-year-old. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Paterno has been criticized heavily for his connection to former defensive coordinator and one-time heir apparent Jerry Sandusky, who was charged over the weekend with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz have been charged with failing to notify authorities after an eyewitness reported a 2002 assault.
Paterno might not be able to execute his exit strategy as the school’s board of trustees is still considering its options, which could include forcing Paterno to leave immediately. While not charged as of now with any wrongdoing, Paterno has been questioned over his apparent failure to follow up on a report of the 2002 incident, in which Sandusky allegedly sodomized a 10-year-old boy in the showers at the team’s football complex.
Joe Paterno is the winningest coach in Division I history.
Acting University Athletic Director Mark Sherurne released a statement on the scandal today on the Penn State Athletics homepage, writing "Every day we are entrusted with the lives of young people, ad we dont-- nor have we ever-- taken that trust lightly. We are outraged that a valued trust has been broken."