UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State trustees’ executive committee, reaffirming decisions the board made three weeks ago, voted this morning to terminate Joe Paterno as head football coach and Graham Spanier as university president.
The special executive committee meeting held at 8 a.m. Friday was held to “reaffirm and ratify what the board did under emergency circumstances,” said university spokesman Bill Mahon.
“Due to extraordinary circumstance, the board of trustees needed to act swiftly and decisively on the personnel decisions announced Nov. 9, 2011 and reported at the public meeting on Nov. 11,” said Steve Garban, chairman of the trustees. “We believe immediate action was necessary and we stand by those decisions.”
The meeting, although held in the Nittany Lion Inn, took place via teleconference and lasted about five minutes. None of the trustees showed up in person, and there was very little discussion. Trustees voted unanimously by voice.
“What they did today was cross their Ts and dot their Is,” Mahon said.
He said the minutes of today’s meeting will go to the full board for reaffirmation at its January meeting. He said he couldn’t comment on the possibility that trustees violated the Sunshine Law when they initially made those decisions in closed-door sessions the week of Nov. 6.
The trustees held closed-door meetings, which were not publicly announced, in the days after news broke that former assistant football Coach Jerry Sandusky had been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period, and that two university administrators were charged with lying about, and failing to report, what they knew about at least one such instance of abuse.
The trustees held a news conference shortly after 10 p.m. Nov. 9 to announce that Graham Spanier would no longer be university president, and iconic football coach Joe Paterno had been fired. Rod Erickson, who had been executive vice president, was named the new president and Tom Bradley was named interim head coach.
A news of Paterno’s firing led thousands of students to flood the streets of downtown State College in apparent protest.
The committee this morning also voted to reaffirm the decision to appoint Erickson president effective Nov. 9. While Erickson was initially named acting president, the word “acting” has since been dropped from his title. University officials have said he is the president and there are no plans to conduct a search for the job.
Mahon said Erickson’s appointment isn’t for any specific length of time.
Mahon said after the meeting the board has had executive committee meetings before, including one a few years ago on the budget.
Mary Kay Paterno Hort, a daughter of Joe and Sue Paterno, was one of the people at the meeting and the press conference that followed.
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