State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Corbett Lost Confidence in Spanier, Paterno, He Tells Reporters

on November 10, 2011 7:18 PM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett supports the Penn State board decision to remove Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno as president and football coach, respectively, he told reporters Thursday evening.

"Their actions caused me to not have confidence in their ability to lead," Corbett said of Spanier and Paterno, though he did not elaborate with specifics.

As governor, Corbett has an automatic seat on the 32-member Penn State board. He spent much of Thursday afternoon meeting with other board members at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.

Just before 5:30 p.m., Corbett emerged for a roughly 20-minute press conference. A former state attorney general, he was Pennsylvania's top prosecutor in 2009 when the AG's office began its investigation into sexual-misconduct allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

That investigation moved into Linda Kelly's oversight after Corbett was elected governor in 2010. Kelly, his successor as state attorney general, last week announced 40 criminal charges against Sandusky -- a former Penn State football assistant coach -- and related charges against two Penn State administrators: Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Curley has gone on paid leave; Schultz, returned to retirement.

Spanier and Paterno are mentioned in a grand-jury report about the overall matter, though they have not been charged with wrongdoing. Penn State trustees moved Wednesday to remove both men from the university.

In speaking Thursday about the situation at Penn State, Corbett said he thinks the board moved swiftly and decisively in ending Paterno's and Spanier's tenures. But he declined to go into detail about internal Penn State board discussions or about the AG's investigation.

"We must keep in mind, when it comes to the safety of children, there can be no margin of error, no hesitation to act," Corbett said.

He also addressed several remarks to Penn State students, thousands of whom were involved in a riot Wednesday night in State College. Many expressed strong opposition to Paterno's ouster.

"Please, please behave and demonstrate your pride in Penn State," Corbett said before television cameras. "Your actions speak much louder than your words."

While he supports students' right to assemble, Corbett said, he denounces the violence. Those who use violence -- that is, rioting -- to make a point are "knuckleheads," he said.

"Show solidarity with the victims. Come together," Corbett said. " ... There are greater alternatives (to) violence."

Right now, he said, Pennsylvania needs to focus on identifying Sandusky's alleged sex-abuse victims. He called on any victims who haven't stepped forward to reach out to authorities.

"We need to protect children. We need to act," the governor said. He has seen many times people with power who believe "they're beyond the law," he went on.

Among Corbett's other comments Thursday:

  • A reporter posed a question about The Second Mile, the nonprofit founded by Sandusky. He is alleged to have had made contact with victims through the organization.

"I think relationships between outside charities and the university certainly have to be looked at," Corbett said. He is confident that a special committee initiated by the Penn State trustees will investigate that angle, he said.

  • In a recent trustees-board meeting, Corbett said, he made a point to emphasize that "we must remember" the alleged victims in the Sandusky case.

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