Duke's Mike Krzyzewski Chastises Penn State's Decision to Abruptly Fire Joe Paterno
June 15, 2012 3:49 PM
by Nate Mink
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One of the few active coaches in college athletics who has become synonymous with an institution like Joe Paterno had at Penn State is Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

In fact, the two coaches shared the stage at Eisenhower Auditorium last June to film the ESPN special, “Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski.”

In a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, which aired Friday night, Krzyzewski chastised Penn State’s administration for the handling of Paterno’s dismissal last November in wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

“It was horrible, and I've respected coach Paterno my entire life and had a chance to get to know him really well in the last year of his life," Krzyzewski said. "I thought it was really not well done in handling the situation that — it's a difficult situation to encounter.

"You had somebody who's given six decades of service to the university and done such an incredible job. Somehow, you have to let  — something has to play out and respect the fact that you've gone through all these experiences for six decades. It doesn't just go out the window right at the end. I thought it was a real mistake by Penn State's leadership."

Paterno died Jan. 22 because of complications from lung cancer treatments, a little more than two months since being fired Nov. 9 for what the university’s Board of Trustees called a failure of leadership.

He was fired by phone because the board was concerned about the media frenzy camped outside his McKee Street home.

Krzyzewski, who ranks first in men’s college basketball history with 927 victories, was asked how he’d handle the Sandusky situation. His answer, some may find interesting, does not stray far from Paterno’s actions.

“You should deal with it like any team should deal with it,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m on the Duke team. If that happened in my area, I would look to work with my athletic director and my president to have a solution. And if that solution meant that I would step down, I would do it in a way which would be part of the solution, not like you’re just thrown out.

"You have to understand that leadership — you may be asked to step down, and that’s part of being a leader.”

Paterno, when told of an allegation that his longtime assistant Sandusky was sexually molesting a young boy in the Lasch Football Building showers in 2001, informed athletic director Tim Curley, who later met with the eyewitness, Mike McQueary, and the university’s vice president of finance and business, Gary Schultz.

Nobody notified police or reported the incident to law enforcement, and the incident ultimately led to Paterno’s downfall 10 years later after Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

Sandusky, 68, is facing 52 counts in a child sex abuse case. The trial resumes Monday at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.

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