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Gov. Corbett lost 'confidence' in Paterno

The Penn State Board of Trustees acted to fire football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier because it no longer had confidence that the two men could lead, Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) said Sunday.

"What I saw was a failure to act, and I've always said your actions speak louder than your words," Corbett said on Fox News Sunday. "The actions or failure to act, while maybe not criminal, caused me not to have confidence in the president and in the coach."

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Penn State University has been rocked by revelations that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused young boys over a 15-year period. 

Coach Paterno and President Spanier have been accused of failing to do enough to ensure those reports of abuse were investigated. Paterno was notified of one incident where Sandusky was allegedly caught assaulting a young boy in a campus athletic facility. Paterno notified the school’s athletic director, but did not contact police.

The governor said the investigation by the state attorney general was ongoing, although there had been no determination of criminal liability so far for Paterno.


"I had one sentence that I used throughout the entire period of the deliberations: That we have to remember the children," Corbett said.

Corbett also said that more victims could possibly come forward.

"It would not be uncommon to find other victims, when the word gets out, when people understand that authorities are doing something about this," he added.


On NBC's Meet the Press, Corbett said that while the state attorney general had determined that Paterno had met his legal obligation under Pennsylvania law by informing a superior, the governor believed he hadn't met his moral obligation.

"Should the law be changed? Absolutely," Corbett said, adding that both parties in the Legislature had already started that process, and that a measure could possible be passed this year.

But suspending the university's football team would be an unfair response, Corbett said.

"This had nothing to do with the men on that team right now. I don't think that they should have to suffer because of the actions of maybe a few," he said.


Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who had nominated Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has now rescinded the nomination, said there was no other option.

"It absolutely broke my heart to have to rescind that," Toomey said. "Given the uncertainty around those issues, I couldn't in good conscience continue to recommend that he receive the highest award that a civilian can receive in the United States."


This story was updated at 11:00 a.m.