Outgoing Gov. Reverses Field on Paterno

Corbett tells Philadelphia Inquirer Penn State BOT “probably shouldn’t have fired” the coach. A previous report painted Corbett as a driving force behind the ouster.

Two days after losing his bid for re-election, the Pennsylvania governor who sat on the Penn State Board of Trustees when Joe Paterno was dismissed is saying the board “probably shouldn't have fired him.”

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Paterno “technically complied with the law” with respect to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Paterno was fired in early November of 2011, shortly after the scandal became public.

He died the following January after a bout with cancer, and was never charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

“They probably shouldn't have fired him, they probably should have suspended him," Corbett told The Inquirer. “He probably should have been given the last three games (of the season), not on the sideline.”

In the Inquirer piece, Corbett claimed to have no input on the decision to fire Paterno. As governor, he has a seat on the board of the state university. He was not in attendance for the Nov. 9, 2011 meeting in which the board decided to fire Paterno and school president Graham Spanier, but told the Inquirer he listened in via phone.

He also told the paper he did not express an opinion on the matter, because as a former state attorney general he was involved with the preliminary stages of the Sandusky investigation -- including grand jury testimony.

That recollection of the meeting flies in the face of an ESPN The Magazine story from April of 2012, which said Corbett had the final word -- albeit via speakerphone -- before the vote to fire Paterno was taken.

“Remember the children,” ESPN quoted Corbett as saying. “Remember that little boy in the shower.”

But Thursday, Corbett expressed doubt over whether Paterno had done anything to warrant being fired.

“If it was clear he understood and did not do anything, yeah,” Corbett told the Inquirer. “But I'm not so sure it was clear to him. And technically, he complied with the law.”

A Republican, Corbett was soundly defeated by Democrat Tom Wolf Tuesday. Corbett became the first Pennsylvania governor of the modern era to lose his bid for re-election.

He admitted to the Inquirer that being part of the board that fired Paterno was “one additional … reason to vote against me for some people.”


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