As the allegations levied against former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky continued to trickle out, calls for the university's Board of Trustees to take action reached a feverish pitch. On Wednesday night, the action came, following a closed door meeting in which the board discussed what to do with head coach Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier. Both were relieved of their duties effective immediately, with Spanier resigning and Paterno being fired by the board.
Ahead of the meeting, rumors of Spanier's resignation began to swirl. We later found out he submitted a letter of resignation before the board convened and accepted it. Paterno, on the other hand, made the decision to retire, but only after the 2011 season. The Board of Trustees, meanwhile, still had the option to relieve him of his duties immediately.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Paterno lamented he wished he'd done more.
That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
At 10 p.m. Eastern, the Board of Trustees called a press conference to announce Spanier had resigned and Paterno had been fired. Quickly, the press conference turned into a circus. The board was peppered with heated questions and the decision to fire Paterno immediately was met with outrage. Shortly thereafter, students began converging on downtown State College to protest the decision.
Paterno was reportedly told he was fired shortly before the press conference, by way of a courier delivering an envelope that contained a phone number and instructions to call it. He released the following statement shortly thereafter.
"Right now I'm not the coach. And after 61 years I have to get used to that."
Later, as tensions began to boil over in State College, Paterno expanded on his statement. With his wife at his side, Paterno asked that everyone remain calm and not destroy property while expressing disappointment in the boards decision and thanking his supporters.
The night wore on and the protest grew more destructive before police were able to take control of the situation and clear the streets. Various acts of vandalism were documented throughout the night. By 2 a.m., the streets were mostly empty, with only the damage left behind.