STATE COLLEGE, Pa.
Joe Paterno's tenure as coach of the Penn State football team will soon be over, perhaps within days or weeks, in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal that has implicated university officials, the New York Times reported.
The board of trustees, scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday, has not determined the precise timing of Paterno's exit, but 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 national brand will not coach another season. Discussions about how to manage his departure have begun.
Trustees said they would appoint a special committee to investigate the child abuse case.
The university canceled a Paterno news conference Tuesday. Spokesman Jeff Nelson read a one-line statement to more than 100 reporters who were waiting: "Due to the ongoing legal circumstances, centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's news conference will not be held and will not be rescheduled." He didn't take questions.
Paterno told reporters: "I know you guys have a lot of questions. I was hoping I could answer them (Tuesday). We'll try to do it as soon as we can."
Paterno's son Scott said there have been no discussions about retirement: "As far as he is concerned he will be coaching the team on Saturday. He's looking forward to it."
Paterno's day-to-day status with the program could be affected by the attorney general's investigation. In explaining his actions, Paterno has said he was not told of the graphic nature of an alleged 2002 assault by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky of a young boy in the football building's showers. He said the graduate assistant coach who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual.
But the New York Times reported that McQueary had told those in authority the explicit details of what he saw, including in his face-to-face meeting with Paterno the day after the incident.
"I just hate it," said former FSU coach Bobby Bowden, whom Paterno passed in 2008 to take over the all-time major college wins lead. "Whatever happens, I don't think I'm going to like.''
Sandusky, 67, a former defensive coordinator under Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys across a 15-year period, and Paterno has been criticized for failing to involve the police when he learned of the allegation of the assault of the young boy in 2002. Sandusky was scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on the charges today, but a Centre County judge agreed to continue the proceeding.
Since Sandusky's arrest Saturday, officials at Penn State — notably president Graham Spanier and Paterno — have come under criticism for a failure to act adequately after learning, at different points over the years, of allegations against Sandusky.
Newspapers have called for their resignations; prosecutors have suggested their inaction led to more children being harmed by Sandusky; and students and faculty at the university have expressed disgust and confusion.
Pennsylvania State Police on Tuesday confirmed that another man had come forward in recent days to say he also had been abused as a child by Sandusky.
Prosecutors contend Sandusky targeted his victims through the Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged boys that he founded and that had close ties to the university even after Sandusky's retirement from coaching in 1999.
Paterno has not been charged in the matter, but his failure to report to authorities what he knew about the 2002 incident has stirred anger among board members and public criticism.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Paterno stepped out of a silver sedan being driven by his wife, Sue, and headed to the team practice. Managers hastily put plywood boards over an exposed fence to block photographers' view of the field.
Hundreds of fans staged a rally outside Paterno's home Tuesday evening. He appeared briefly and thanked the crowd for coming. "I've lived for this place. I've lived for people like you guys and girls. It's hard for me to say how much this means,'' he said. "We're always going to be Penn State. I'm proud of you. I've always been proud of you. Beat Nebraska."
He acknowledged there had been criticism of how the victims were treated by authorities. Paterno said he and Sue would pray for the victims.
Former Bucs safety Mark Robinson, an All-American at Penn State in 1982 and part of USF football's radio broadcast team since the Bulls started playing in 1997, said the scandal has been difficult to fathom.
"I have so much respect and admiration for coach Paterno,'' he said. "The things he's provided for myself, it goes beyond explanation. Lessons I've learned off the field more so than on the field. Now, regardless of the outcome, it's going to tarnish his image, his reputation. It's a shame in that regard."
He described Sandusky as "one of the nicest people I've ever met. … Hopefully this isn't true and the legal process can run its course. If it is, you have to hope that justice is really given in this situation."
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.