A Pennsylvania public official instrumental in the firing of Joe Paterno now says that Penn State “probably” shouldn’t have axed their longtime coach.
“They probably shouldn’t have fired him,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett told the Philadelphia Inquirer in their Thursday edition. “They probably should have suspended him.”
Joe Paterno died in January of 2012 after Penn State, which had hired him to coach their football team in 1966, fired him in November of 2011 despite the 85-year-old man’s announcement that he would retire at season’s end. Including his time as an assistant at the school, Paterno served more than sixty years on the football team’s coaching staff before a pedophile scandal involving a top assistant brought shame, and heavy NCAA punishments, upon the program. Corbett says of Paterno’s role in the investigation of former assistant Jerry Sandusky that “technically, he complied with the law.”
The timing of the governor’s candid remarks strikes observers as strange. As Pennsylvania attorney general, Corbett convened a grand jury against former Penn State defensive coordinator Sandusky, later convicted of multiple child-molestation charges, and spoke out in the court of public opinion against Sandusky’s old boss, Paterno, briefly addressing the school’s trustees before they fired the coach. Just as Corbett may have done more good for Paterno by saying his words then instead of now, he might have done more good for himself had he addressed the controversy as candidly before Election Day as he did after it. The Republican lost his bid for a second term in Harrisburg earlier this week.
Corbett conceded that his involvement in the controversy may have led to his defeat at the polls, dubbing the case “one additional coal” on the fire that burned him on Tuesday.