The allegations that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys and that university officials, including legendary coach Joe Paterno, had been warned years ago about what was supposedly happening and never informed police have raised an obvious question:
Is it time for the 84-year-old Paterno to step down and for a complete "house cleaning" of the school's football program?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook writes this morning that he thinks Paterno must at least take an immediate leave of absence. At Harrisburg's Patriot-News, David Jones says Paterno at minimum needs to explain why he didn't go to the authorities after he was told by a graduate assistant in 2002 that Sandusky appeared to have been performing a sex act with a boy in the Penn State team's shower.
The letters pages of the university's Daily Collegian are filling up with calls from students and alumni for Paterno and his staff to go — or at least step aside temporarily.
The Patriot-News' editorial board this morning said on the newspaper's front page that Paterno and university President Graham Spanier both need to leave.
Paterno says he told the school's athletic director about the 2002 incident. But he apparently didn't go further or follow up to see if anything had been done. The athletic director, Tim Curley, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz have each been charged with perjury (for allegedly lying to a grand jury) and failure to report child abuse. Sandusky faces 40 counts related to the alleged abuse of at least eight boys. All three men profess their innocence.
Paterno usually holds a weekly news conference during the season at midday Tuesdays. That's today. So many will be watching and listening. We'll pass along any news, if he indeed does speak with reporters about the scandal.
Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. Report: "Penn State Said to Be Planning Paterno's Exit":
The university's board of trustees have begun "discussions about how to manage [Paterno's] departure" and it is "clear that the man who has more victories than any other coach at college football's top level and who made Penn State a prestigious brand will not survive to coach another season," The New York Times just reported. Its sources are "two people briefed on conversations among the university's top officials."
Update at 12:10 p.m. ET. "On-Going Legal Circumstances" Cited For Cancellation Of Paterno's News Conference:
PennLive.com has a photo of a notice given to reporters a short time ago at Penn State which reads that "due to the on-going legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be re-scheduled."
And it reports Paterno says that university President Graham Spanier canceled the planned news conference "without conferring with the coach." Paterno said he is disappointed and wanted to talk with reporters, the news site writes.
Update at noon ET. University Won't Comment On Reason For Cancellation:
Our colleagues at WITF say on their Twitter page that "#PennState official would not answer when asked whose decision it was to cancel press conference."
Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Paterno's Son Confirms Cancellation Of News Conference.
"Penn State administrators have canceled Joe Paterno's weekly news conference in which he was expected to field questions about a sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach," the AP now reports. "Paterno's son Scott tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that the decision was made by President Graham Spanier's office. Scott Paterno says his father was disappointed and was prepared to take questions about the scandal"
Update at 11:43 a.m. ET. Press Conference Canceled?
The Associated Press says Paterno has canceled his news conference. We're trying to confirm.
Meanwhile, here's a question: