STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Citing the child sex-abuse charges against a longtime assistant football coach, Penn State University canceled a scheduled appearance by Joe Paterno today as a report said that the school was preparing to oust the fabled football coach.
Paterno’s regularly scheduled football briefing was abruptly canceled about 45 minutes before it was to start. His son Scott said that Paterno wanted to hold the news conference but that university officials did not.
Scott Paterno also questioned a report in The New York Times that school officials were preparing for his father’s resignation or ouster. Citing unnamed officials, the Times said discussions were under way on how to “manage” Paterno’s exit from the post he has held for 46 years.
“At this point in time there has been no discussion with the coach about retiring,” Scott Paterno told reporters gathered outside his father’s house this afternoon. “There have been no discussions with the coach about stepping down. And as far as he is concerned he will be coaching the team on Saturday. He’s looking forward to it.”
The developments marked the latest in the still-unfolding scandal growing from Saturday’s arrest of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
A grand jury presentment said Sandusky, once considered a possible successor to Paterno, molested at least eight boys since the mid-1990s, when he was still on the team. The attacks allegedly occurred at Sandusky’s house, in the football team’s locker room showers and on team road trips.
Pennsylvania State Police today confirmed that another man had come forward in recent days to say he also had been abused as a child by Sandusky.
Prosecutors contend Sandusky targeted his victims through The Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged boys that he founded and that had close ties to the university even after Sandusky’s retirement from coaching in 1999.
Two university administrators, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, are accused of failing to report one of the alleged assaults then lying to a grand jury about it.
That incident occurred in 2002, when a graduate assistant allegedly saw Sandusky rape what looked to be a 10-year-old boy in the locker room showers one Friday night. According to the grand jury, the assistant reported the incident the next morning to Paterno. The coach passed the information to Curley.
In a statement released Sunday, Paterno said the assistant told him about “inappropriate conduct” but not a sex assault. The coach said he believed he “did what I was supposed to do” in reporting the information to Curley, because Sandusky was no longer his assistant coach, although he had an office at the football complex and university privileges.
Tuesday’s conference was to be a regularly scheduled briefing on the team’s forthcoming game against Nebraska.
University officials on Monday had said Paterno would only answer questions about the game, the Nittany Lions home finale and its first contest since the scandal broke.
But the Sandusky case has drawn a national spotlight and an avalanche of criticism and questions about the actions of Paterno and others. More than 100 journalists clustered outside the Clemens Family Football Team Complex waiting for the coach.
Instead, university spokesman Jeff Nelson emerged from the building and read a one-line statement.
“Due to the ongoing legal circumstances, centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today’s news conference will not be held and will not be rescheduled,” he said.
Nelson didn’t elaborate and took no questions.
Sandusky, 67, was scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on the charges Wednesday, but a Centre County judge agreed to continue the proceeding.
On Sunday, university officials said Schultz had decided to retire and Curley would take a leave of absence until the case is resolved.
Through their lawyers, all three men have denied any wrongdoing.
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