Gov. Corbett says he Never Condemned Joe Paterno
In a published interview, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett revisits the firing of Joe Paterno, saying he never "condemned" the former Penn State football coach.
In the interview with Associated Press reporter Mark Scolforo, Corbett talked about Paterno's firing on Nov. 9, 2011. "Since that date the only thing I have said about Joe Paterno is I've quoted him," said Corbett. "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."
Paterno was fired shortly after the Jerry Sandusky scandal exploded. Former Penn State assistant coach, Mike McQueary, told Paterno he saw Sandusky in the shower with a young man in 2001. Paterno reported the incident to then athletic director Tim Curley. But Sandusky wasn't charged until nearly a decade later.
The governor was not present when the Penn State Board of Trustees met to discuss Paterno's dismissal. He took part in the meeting through a telephone hook-up. Corbett says he didn't agree with the decision to fire Paterno over the phone. "If I had known that," Corbett told the AP, "I would have insisted they do it in person. Man up."
At the time that Paterno and former Penn State president Graham Spanier were fired, Corbett was quoted as saying, "Their actions caused me to not have confidence in their ability to lead." Corbett reportedly did not elaborate.
Paterno died three months after being fired and many of his supporters are still bitter about what happened. Corbett told the AP he does not feel the Sandusky scandal is hurting him politically, while he runs for a second term.
After Paterno died in January 2012, Corbett ordered flags flown at half staff. The governor issued a statement saying he was saddened by Paterno's passing, "His legacy as the winningest coach in major college football and his generosity to Penn State as an institution and to his players stand as monuments to his life. As both man and coach, Joe Paterno confronted adversities, both past and present, with grace and forbearance."
Sandusky is serving a 30-60 year jail sentence after being convicted for sexually abusing young boys.
Three former Penn State officials are also facing charges for allegedly covering up the scandal. Spanier, Curley and Gary Schultz all maintain their innocence.