Joe Paterno retiring as Penn State's head football coach at the end of the 2011 season was his own decision, according to Sara Ganim of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Penn., who cites a source close to Paterno.
If that much is true, then the rest of Ganim's report, which is that Paterno has had no contact with the Penn State Board of Trustees thus far, Paterno may not be entirely out of danger of being fired. The Board of Trustees promised an investigation and "swift, decisive action" after a Tuesday meeting, and Paterno independently making the decision to retire after the 2011 season and finish out his career as the Nittany Lions' head coach could rankle the Board further.
Paterno's comment on the Board of Trustees in a statement he released announcing his retirement suggests he is making this decision for their benefit:
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.
But that could well embolden a Board that could be interested in making the ultimate call on Paterno to consider firing a man who has become ingrained in American sports as the leader of Penn State over a career that spans more than 60 years at the school.