How Paterno Got Fired–Shame on the Board–No Class!


On that Wednesday night in November, though, the only thing left for the board to do was to figure out how to carry out the firing. Could representatives safely show up at Paterno’s home amid the media frenzy? Was it realistic to expect Paterno, then 84, to meet with the trustees? The trustees decided to fire him by telephone, a decision over which many board members interviewed expressed as their biggest regret.

Shortly before 10 p.m., Fran Ganter, the associate athletic director for football, delivered an envelope to Paterno’s home, just off of Penn State’s campus. Inside the envelope was a telephone number. Paterno called the number, and Garban answered. Then he passed the telephone to Surma, who was seated next to him. Surma asked if Paterno could hear him O.K. Paterno said that he could. Then Surma told Paterno of the trustees’ decision. “The board of trustees has determined effective immediately you are no longer the football coach,” Surma recalled saying.

Then he heard a click. Paterno hung up.

Surma and Garban sat at the table for a moment, numb. Then the telephone rang again. Surma answered. It was Paterno’s wife, Sue, who said, during the short conversation: “After 61 years, he deserved better.” Then she hung up on Surma.

This was excerpted from the NY Times

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