The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

June 26, 2014

I’ve never condemned Paterno, ’never will,’ governor says

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday he has never condemned the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno for his actions regarding now-convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky, and he “never will,” citing what he called the “unusual circumstances” surrounding what happened.

The Republican governor, now in the middle of a re-election campaign, also told The Associated Press he regrets that the Penn State board decided to fire Paterno by phone rather than in person. The governor was a voting trustee when the scandal broke in November 2011.

“When they were talking about the whole thing I said, ‘You’ve got to remember the children,’ ” Corbett said. “Since that date the only thing I have said about Joe Paterno is I’ve quoted him. As he said, I wish he would have done more. I’ve not condemned, one way or the other, never have, never will. These are unusual circumstances.”

Corbett said his recollection was that he did not take part in a voice vote on Paterno’s firing.

But other accounts said that the proposal to fire Paterno was made and that no board members objected. The report for Penn State by former FBI director Louis Freeh said trustees’ recollections of Corbett’s role in the discussion differed.

Corbett said when he hung up from the trustees’ conference call that night the board had not decided how they were going to tell Paterno he was no longer the coach. They ended up having someone deliver a note directing Paterno to call a phone number, and when he did, board vice president John Surma fired him.

“If I had known that, I would have insisted they do it in person,” Corbett said. “Man up.”

Paterno’s firing in 2011, three months before he died of lung cancer, remains a sore spot among many Penn State alumni and fans.

But the governor said he does not believe the scandal is hurting him politically in his campaign for a second term.


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